Objectives: A large number of studies evaluating adolescent smoking prevention programs have been published. Systematic quantitative reviews of this literature are needed to learn what does and does not work. The present meta-analysis focuses on the efficacy of school-based programs.
Methods: Evaluations of 94 separate interventions were included in the meta-analysis. Studies were screened for methodological rigor and those with weaker methodology were segregated from those with more defensible methodology; major analyses focused on the latter.
Results: Behavioral effect sizes were found to be largest for interventions with a social reinforcement orientation, moderate for interventions with either a developmental or a social norms orientation, and small for interventions with the traditional rational orientation. Attitude effect sizes followed the same pattern, but knowledge effect sizes were similar across all four orientation categories.
Conclusions: Because behavioral effect represents the fundamental objective of programs for prevention of adolescent tobacco use, the present results indicate that school-based programs should consider adopting interventions with a social reinforcement, social norms, or developmental orientation.