Objectives: To assess the feasibility of a 5-year community-based tobacco control program in the community of Mamre in South Africa, while measuring the smoking and quitting rates at the beginning and end of this demonstration project.
Methods: A tobacco intervention program was developed at low cost in collaboration with the community, and involved a wide range of activities targeting people of all ages, especially those at risk for cardiovascular disease. Community members were trained to deliver smoking cessation programs and specific advice to smokers. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 1989 in a random sample of 1238 people, aged 15 years and older, prior to the 5-year demonstration project, and again in 1996 among 974 people at the end of the project. Demographic data and smoking and quitting patterns were collected by interviewer-administered questionnaires. Trained field workers used standardized procedures for recording blood pressure, height, and weight.
Results: The community participated with enthusiasm in the activities surrounding smoking cessation and the annual World No Smoking Day. The smoking rate decreased significantly between the two surveys (OR 1996/1989 = 0.82; 95% CI of 0.69-0.99), and the quitting rate increased significantly during the 5-year intervention period compared to the 5 years prior to the baseline survey (OR 1996/1989 = 0.74; 95% CI of 0.57-0.98). Men who participated in the program but continued to use tobacco in 1996 smoked more cigarettes than those who smoked in 1989. People who quit during the intervention period tended to be older, hypertensive, and obese; they consumed no alcohol, and noticed the health warnings posted in the community if they were older and had 10 or more years of education.
Conclusions: A low-cost community-based tobacco control program was successfully implemented in the Mamre community. The program was received enthusiastically, built tobacco cessation skills, and significantly reduced the community's smoking rate compared to that before the demonstration project.