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Tobacco Reduction: Awareness and Education (Youth Focus)


  • Tobacco reduction,
  • Social environment,
  • Community,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Healthcare facilities,
  • Schools,
  • Workplace,

Tobacco Reduction: Awareness and education (youth focus)

Research shows that tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada. In 2015, approximately 2780 new cancers diagnosed in Alberta were linked to tobacco smoking.1 Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals with at least 172 of these being toxic and 69 known to cause cancer.2 Tobacco is the only consumer product that will kill at least one in two regular users when used as it’s intended to be used.3


Ways to get started

  • Develop tobacco education topics for use in schools and with families4-13 by collaborating with the school staff, teachers and relevant community groups. Try aligning topics and activities with the existing school curriculum. Some examples of topics include the following: Myths about smoking and e-cigarettes14,15,16 benefits of not smoking6,7, risk factors for smoking14,15,17,18, peer pressure14,19, tobacco media literacy6,15,20, quitting tobacco, or addiction.9,10,17
  • Consider including resilience and skill building into activities and programs, as these factors and other mental health topics are important in preventing tobacco use among youth.21 For example, include: meditation10, practicing healthy lifestyle behaviours9, training to resist peer pressure19, problem solving4, stress management17, critical thinking15, and self-esteem.15
  • Include examples or stories in your program or education campaign that are relevant to youth.6
  • Consider creating an interactive component to your education campaign to increase engagement.6-11
  • Use age-appropriate language and literacy level19, and include culturally and gender diverse images.14
  • Include tech-based approaches such as web-based modules17, game applications14, videogames21 and mobile phones.22

For further action to reduce tobacco use in the community, see

Multi-component community-wide interventions that increase awareness about and provide opportunities to reduce tobacco use in your community will have greater impact than implementing one-off strategies.

Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:

  1. What you expect to learn or change
  2. What you measure and report
  3. How to measure impact

What you expect to learn about tobacco awareness and education (youth focus)
may include:

  • Learning that the strategy was implemented as planned
  • Increased inclusion of tobacco/smoking prevention activities and/or in line with school programming
  • Increased knowledge on topic
  • Intent to change behaviour

References -Tobacco Education and Awareness (Youth)

  1. Poirier AE, Ruan Y, Grevers X, Walter SD, Villeneuve PJ, Friedenreich CM, Brenner DR. Estimates of the current and future burden of cancer attributable to active and passive tobacco smoking in Canada. Preventive Medicine. 2019;122:9-19.
  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). (2010). How tobacco smoke causes disease: The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Author. Accessed at:
  3. Els, C. (2009). Tobacco addiction: What do we know, and where do we go? Accessed at: _and_where_do_we_go
  4. Allara E, Engelini P, Gorini G, et al. Effects of a prevention program on multiple health compromising behaviours in adolescence: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Prev Med. 2019;124:1-10.
  5. Blank MD, Ferris KA, Metzger A, et al. Physical activity and quit motivation moderators of adolescent smoking reduction. Am J Health Behav. 2017;41(4):419-427.
  6. Brinker TJ, Owczarek AD, Seeger W, et al. A medical student-delivered smoking prevention program, education against tobacco, for secondary schools in Germany: Randomized controlled trial. J Med Internet Res. 2017;19(6):e199.
  7. Evans W, Andrade E, Goldmeer S, Smith M, Snider J, Girardo G. The living the example social media substance us prevention program: A pilot evaluation. JMIR Ment Health. 2017;4(2):e24.
  8. Fletcher A, Willmott M, Langford R, et al. Pilot trial and process evaluation of a multilevel smoking prevention intervention in further education settings. Public Health Res. 2017;5(8).
  9. Gonzálvez MT, Espada JP, Orgilés M, Sussman S. Two-year effects of a classroom-based smoking prevention and cessation intervention program. Eur Addict Res. 2017;23:122-128.
  10. Gonzálvez MT, Moralesa A, Orgilésa M, Sussman S, Espada JP. Role of smoking intention in tobacco use reduction: A mediation analysis of an effective classroombased prevention/cessation intervention for adolescents. Addict Behav. 2018;84:186192.
  11. Hecht ML, Shin YJ, Pettigrew J, Miller-Day M, Krieger JL. Designed cultural adaptation and delivery quality in rural substance use prevention: An effectiveness trial for the Keepin' it REAL curriculum. Prev Sci. 2018;19:1008-1018.
  12. Hodder RK, Freund M, Bowman J, et al. Effectiveness of a pragmatic school-based universal resilience intervention in reducing tobacco, alcohol and illicit substance use in a population of adolescents: Cluster-randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2017;7.
  13. Hodder RK, Freund M, Bowman J, et al. Differential intervention effectiveness of a universal school-based resilience intervention in reducing adolescent substance use within student subgroups: Exploratory assessment within a cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2018;8:e021047.
  14. Kapitány-Fövény M, Vagdalt E, Ruttkay Z, Urbán5 R, Richman MJ, Demetrovics Z. Potential of an interactive drug prevention mobile phone app (once upon a high): Questionnaire study among students. JMIR Serious Games. 2018;6(4):e19.
  15. Leiva A, Estelad A, M. B-V, Aguilóe A, Lloberaa J, Yáñeze AM. Effectiveness of a complex intervention on smoking in adolescents: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Prev Med. 2018;114:88-94.
  16. Morrill AM, Abelb CA, Januszweskic M, Chamberlain B. Community education by advanced pharmacy practice experience students: Increasing electronic cigarette awareness amongst teens. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2017;9:1147-1150.
  17. Nădășan V, Foley KL, Pénzes M, et al. The short-term effects of ASPIRA: A web-based, multimedia smoking prevention program for adolescents in Romania: A cluster randomized trial. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017;19(8):908-915.
  18. Estrada Y, Lee TK, Wagstaff R, et al. eHealth familias unidas: Efficacy trial of an evidence-based intervention adapted for use on the internet with Hispanic families. Prev Sci. 2019;20:68-77.
  19. McCallum GB, Chang AB, Saunders J, et al. Feasibility of a peer-led asthma and smoking prevention project in Australian schools with high Indigenous youth. Front Pediatr. 2017;5:33.
  20. Ray AE, Greene K, Hecht ML, et al. An e-learning adaptation of an evidence-based media literacy curriculum to prevent youth substance use in community groups: Development and feasibility of REAL media. JMIR Form Res. 2019;3(2):e12132.
  21. Pentz MA, Hieftjec KD, Pendergrass TM, et al. A videogame intervention for tobacco product use prevention in adolescents. Addict Behav. 2019;91:188-192.
  22. Paz Castro R, Haug S, Filler A, Kowatsch T, Schaub MP. Engagement within a mobile phone-based smoking cessation intervention for adolescents and its association with participant characteristics and outcomes. J Med Internet Res. 2017;19(11):e356.