Policy Factsheet

Community Smoking Prevention Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Approximately 65% of adolescents have tried smoking by the age of 18.1
  • In the U.S., there are approximately 3.1 million adolescents who are current smokers1
  • According to the Surgeon General, if young people do not start smoking during adolescence, it is unlikely they will ever smoke.1

Community Groups

  • Community-based Organizations
  • Local Government
  • Local Health Department
  • Local School District
  • State Government

Policy Components

  • Student education and counseling programs
  • School education policies
  • Youth anti-tobacco activities and programs
  • Tobacco-free public places
  • Mass media communication and education
  • Education by health professionals

Desired Outcomes

  • Prevention of smoking initiation
  • Reductions in smoking prevalence
  • Reduction in cardiovascular risk factors
  • Increase in knowledge about negative effects of smoking
  • Reduced intention to smoke

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

On average, community smoking prevention programs can achieve:

  • Small reductions in the uptake of smoking in young people2

On average, mass media campaigns can achieve:

  • Reducing tobacco use prevalence in adolescents when combined with other interventions.3

Community Examples

Seattle, Washington, Public Health-Seattle and King County Tobacco Prevention and Community Tobacco Cessation Partnership

Santa Clara, California, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CCPW) Tobacco Prevention and Control project and The Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP)

Links to Policy Examples

Revised Code of Washington § 70.160, Smoking in Public Places

Revised Code of Washington § 70.155.120, Youth tobacco prevention account –Source and use of funds

California Tobacco Health Protection Act of 1988 (Prop 99) and Health and Safety Code §§ 104350-104480, Revenue and Taxation Code 104500-104545, revenues earmarked for programs to reduce smoking

Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.

Local governments and organizations may check existing state and federal statutes and administrative codes for the authority to implement local policies.


1 US Department of Health and Human Services (1995). Preventing Tobacco Use among Young People. A Report of the Surgeon General. US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, Available at <a href=http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/1994/index.htm.>1994 Surgeon General's Report—Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People</a>

2 Sowden, AJ, Stead, LF (2003). Community interventions for preventing smoking in young people. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, 1, CD001291.

3 Hopkins DP, et al. (2001). Reviews of Evidence Regarding Interventions to Reduce Tobacco Use and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 20(2S), 16-66.

4 Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.