Objectives: This study evaluated a community organization approach that emphasized involvement of audiences in program planning and implementation in promoting nonsmoking among African American residents of low-income neighborhoods.
Methods: The quasi-experimental design involved a 24-month intervention in 3 low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods in St. Louis. Intervention neighborhoods were compared with comparable, untreated neighborhoods in Kansas City.
Results: The program was successful in engaging audience members in its governance and in instigating numerous and diverse neighborhood activities to promote nonsmoking. The prevalence of smoking declined from 34% to 27% in program neighborhoods but only from 34% to 33% in comparison neighborhoods. This difference was apparent within all demographically defined subsamples, indicating that observed changes were consistent and not attributable to confounding by demographic characteristics.
Conclusions: A community organization approach emphasizing local authority for program decisions and involvement of informal networks may have an appreciable impact on smoking among residents of low-income, African American neighborhoods.