Background: Tobacco use is a significant public health problem in China. Culturally specific smoking prevention programs are needed for Chinese adolescents. This study evaluated a school-based smoking prevention curriculum with a social normative approach developed in the United States for adolescents in urban Wuhan, China.
Methods: As a randomized trial, the intervention was implemented in 1998 with 7th grade students in seven schools with seven matched control schools. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to compare ever and recent (past-month) smoking behaviors for the control and program conditions.
Results: At the 1-year follow-up, smoking had increased more rapidly in the control schools than in the program schools. The odds of baseline nonsmokers initiating smoking did not differ between the program and control groups (OR=1.08 with 95% CI=0.71, 1.64). The program prevented progression to recent smoking among boys who were baseline ever smokers. Among boys who were recent smokers at baseline, the prevention program significantly reduced risk of remaining recent smokers at follow-up (OR=0.45 with 95% CI=0.23, 0.88).
Conclusions: This social normative smoking prevention curriculum did not demonstrate a significant primary prevention effect but showed potential for secondary prevention. Culturally specific smoking prevention programs are needed for Chinese adolescents.