Background: The present study describes the evaluation of a primary smoking prevention programme called "be smart--don't start", left. The programme is carried out as a competition and classes that participate decide not to smoke for a period of 6 months. Classes that stay smoke-free for that period of time can win a number of attractive prizes. Aim of this study was to examine, whether the programme is effective in delaying the onset of smoking in adolescents from different types of school in Germany.
Methods: In the years 1998/1999 a control-group study with repeated assessment was carried out. In the study, smoking status was assessed in 1677 pupils with a mean age of 12.8 years (SD = 0.97) on three occasions: prior to the beginning of the intervention, after the intervention and 6 months after the end of the intervention. Pupils came from four different types of school in Germany.
Results: After the intervention, in the control group 13.1 % of the pupils reported to have smoked during the previous 4 weeks, compared to 7.6 % in the intervention group (OR = 1.84 (1.31-2.58), p < 0.001). In the follow-up assessment, 20,9 % in the control group and 16,4 % in the intervention group reported to have smoked (OR = 1.34 (1.03-1.75), p < 0.05). With regard to different school types, the effect on the "Gesamtschulen" (comprehensive school; high school) was the strongest.
Conclusion: The results suggests an effect of the intervention on the delay of onset of smoking in pupils.