Smokefree Class Competition

A European school-based smoking prevention programme


Co-funded by the European Commission from 1997 to 2009, a network of partners from up to 22 European Countries
engaged in implementing a school-based intervention to prevent smoking: the “Smokefree Class Competition” (SFC).
The network was co-ordinated by the Institute for Therapy and Health Research (IFT-Nord), Germany.


The idea of SFC was first established in Finland in 1989. SFC is especially conceptualized for schools and
carried out as a competition for pupils aged 11 to 14 years. The concept and materials are attractive and can
be easily integrated in many different subjects.

Even though the program is suited to the needs and circumstances in the individual countries, the methods applied
are similar in all participating countries. The degree of flexibility placed in a fixed conceptual frame enables
comparison and sharing of data and experiences thus contributing to uniformity and consensus of the approach
across the states.

All countries agree on a basic set of rules for the project implementation.

  • Classes decide to be a non-smoking class for a period of six months. The programme is carried out as a class
    activity. All partners point out on their materials that the participation in the program is voluntary for
    the pupils and classes.
  • Pupils sign a class contract and an individual contract promising not to smoke during the competition. The
    contracts serve to underline their commitment.
  • The responsibility for the control of smoking lies mainly with the pupils themselves: pupils monitor their
    smoking status and report regularly, whether they have smoked or not.
  • Classes which refrain from smoking for that period of time are rewarded: They participate in a national as
    well as a European prize draw, in which they can win a number of attractive prizes.


Several process and outcome evaluation studies have been carried out in the European participating countries
demonstrating high acceptance and practicability of the program as well as giving hints for effects of
participation in the competition in reducing smoking among adolescents. In addition, a cost-effectiveness study
shows that SFC is a cost-effective school-based intervention.

  • Isensee B, Hanewinkel R. Meta-Analysis on the Effects of the Smoke-Free Class Competition on Smoking Prevention in Adolescents. European Addiction Research 2012; 18: 110–15.
  • Isensee B, Morgenstern M, Stoolmiller M, Maruska K, Sargent JD, Hanewinkel R. Effects of Smokefree Class Competition 1 year after the end of intervention: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2012; 66: 334–41.
  • Hanewinkel R, Isensee B, Maruska K, Sargent JD, Morgenstern M. Denormalising Smoking in the Classroom: Does it Cause Bullying? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2010; 64: 202–08.
  • Hoeflmayr D, Hanewinkel R. Do school-based tobacco prevention programmes pay off? The cost-effectiveness of the “Smoke-free Class Competition”. Public Health 2008; 122(1): 34-41.
  • Hrubá D, Zachovalová V, Matejová H, Danková I. “Our class does not smoke”; The Czech version of the “Smoke-Free Class Competition” programme. Cent Eur J Public Health 2007; 15(4):163-166.
  • Isensee B, Hanewinkel R. Effects of a repeated participation in the non-smoking competition “Be Smart – Don’t Start”. Sucht German Journal of Addiction Research and Practice 2007; 53(6):328-334 [German].
  • Hanewinkel R. “Be smart–don’t start”. Results of a non-smoking competition in Germany 1997-2007. Gesundheitswesen 2007; 69(1):38-44 [German].
  • Schulze A, Pötschke-Langer M, Edler L, Mons U. Smoke-free Class Competition: a reply to the initiators of the program. Prev Med 2006; 43(2):151-153.
  • Hanewinkel R, Wiborg G, Isensee B, Nebot M, Vartiainen E. “Smoke-free Class Competition”: far-reaching conclusions based on weak data. Prev Med 2006; 43(2):150-151.
  • Schulze A, Mons U, Edler L, Pötschke-Langer M. Lack of sustainable prevention effect of the “Smoke-Free Class Competition” on German pupils. Prev Med 2006; 42(1):33-39.
  • Schmid H. Smokefree Class Competition in Switzerland: does it work with negative peer pressure? Psychol Health 2005; 20 (suppl 1):116-117.
  • Josendal O. Smoke-free class competition may delay the onset of smoking in adolescence. Evid Based Healthc 2003; 7(1):18-19.
  • Crone MR, Reijneveld SA, Willemsen MC, van Leerdam FJ, Spruijt RD, Sing RA. Prevention of smoking in adolescents with lower education: a school based intervention study. J Epidemiol Community Health 2003; 57(9):675-680.
  • Hanewinkel R, Wiborg G. School-based smoking prevention: results of a prospective controlled trial. Special Issue Wilhelm Feuerlein Research Award 2003. Sucht German Journal of Addiction Research and Practice 2003; 49(6):333-341 [German].
  • Hanewinkel R, Wiborg G. Diffusion of the non-smoking campaign “Be Smart-Don’t Start” between 1997 and 2003 in Germany. Gesundheitswesen 2003; 65(4):250-254 [German].
  • Wiborg G, Hanewinkel R. Effectiveness of the “Smoke-Free Class Competition” in delaying the onset of smoking in adolescence. Prev Med 2002; 35(3):241-249.
  • Wiborg G, Hanewinkel R, Kliche KO. “Be smart-dont’ start” campaign to prevent children from starting to smoke: an analysis according to type of school they attend. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 2002; 127(9):430-436 [German].
  • Hanewinkel R, Wiborg G. Primary and secondary prevention of smoking in adolescents: results of the campaign “Be Smart – Don’t Start”. Gesundheitswesen 2002; 64(8-9):492-498 [German].
  • Wiborg G, Hanewinkel R. Conception and process evaluation of a school-based non-smoking competition. Sucht 2001; 47(1):25-32 [German].
  • Hanewinkel R, Wiborg G, Paavola M, Vartiainen E. European smoke-free class competition. Tob Control 1998; 7(3):326.
  • Vartiainen E, Saukko A, Paavola M, Vertio H. “No Smoking Class” competitions in Finland: their value in delaying the onset of smoking in adolescence. Health Promot Int 1996; 11(3):189-192.


For further information, feel free to contact IFT-Nord.