An Innovative Approach to School-based Smoking Prevention

the Idea of the Competition
the Rules
the Material


    The Idea of the Competition

Smokefree Class Competition is a smoking prevention programme that reaches for two main goals:

  • Delay or prevention of the onset of smoking.
  • Cessation of smoking of pupils who have already experimented with smoking
    in order to hinder them from becoming regular smokers.

The idea of the Smokefree Class
Competition is distinct to those traditional approaches, because instead of
using fear arousal strategies to hinder pupils from smoking, the desired non-smoking
behaviour is reinforced: Non-smokers are rewarded if they stay smokefree.

According to learning theory a
positive reinforcement enhances the probability of producing a desired behaviour. In this way non-smoking
becomes a popular and worthwhile behaviour, and social norms within the peer
groups are influenced in a way that non-smoking becomes more common in classes
than smoking.

Target groups are pupils aged 11-14, since this is the age group where pupils start to experiment with smoking.



    The Rules of the Competition

The basic rules of the competition are the same in each country

  • Classes decide to be a non-smoking class for a period of six months.
  • 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.
  • The national prizes vary in the participating countries. The main prize
    in the European prize draw is a trip to one of the other participating countries.



    The Materials

Each of the participating countries develop their own materials for the participating classes (flyer,
class contract, pupils contract, poster etc.).

  • A number of participating countries develop teachers’and / or pupils’ brochures giving information about the rules of the competition
    and advice to teachers how to handle problems that could occur during the competition.
    Moreover examples for prevention activities that could be carried out during
    the competition can be provided with the brochure.
  • A number of countries send newsletters or other kind of regular letters to the participating classes where they give information
    on drop-outs, report on activities that could be carried out during the competition
    and summarise interesting newspaper and magazine articles on the subject non-smoking.
  • The addresses of the participating classes in the different countries can
    be found on this webpage under participants,
    so that pupils can get in touch with classes in other countries. Moreover,
    there is a guestbook on the internet, where pupils could get in contact with
    each other and where they can write their opinion on smoking as well as on
    the competition.