Background: Since 2000 the Thoraxklinik Heidelberg offers the primary smoking prevention program "ohnekippe" for children aged 12-14 years. This program was scientifically evaluated to test its efficacy and sustainability.
Methods: All pupils participating in this prevention program (n=1427) were asked to complete a written survey regarding their smoking behaviour at the time of intervention (baseline) and after one year. A control group (n=1412) without intervention from comparable schools and grades were questioned in parallel. Afterwards the program was modified with active involvement of schools and then data regarding smoking prevalence of young people were compared based on the microcensus 2005 and 2009.
Results: 187 (13,4 %) pupils in the intervention and 215 (15,4 %) pupils in the control group were smokers at baseline. One year after, the number of regular and occasional smokers had increased from 11.2 % to 21.2 % in both groups without significant differences. Besides age and initial smoking status the "peer group" had important influence on smoking behaviour of young people. After modifying the program the number of smoking young people in the catchment area of "ohnekippe" has decreased significantly (7.8 %). Overall smoking prevalence in this age group was much lower (11,8 %) than in the rest of Baden-Württemberg (16.0 %) and of Germany (17.5 %).
Conclusion: Smoking prevention programs for young people can be effective if they are appropriately designed. Not only one prevention event, but intensive preparation and follow-up in schools as well as involvement of the "peer group" is essential for a successful intervention. After appropriate modification the smoking prevention program "ohnekippe" shows highly promising success.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.