Involving, engaging and enabling selected group of school adolescents to take the leadership in reducing the attraction towards tobacco usage among students
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Health Promotion Division, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South-East Asia, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sonali Gunasekara   

Health Promotion Division, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A227
Nearly 3.7% adolescents in the age of 13-15 are tobacco users in Sri Lanka. Tobacco usage is initiated primarily during adolescence as tobacco industry uses different tactics to make it more appealing to this age group.

Purpose of the study was to involve, engage and enable selected group of school adolescents to reduce attraction among students towards tobacco usage.

Male and female students (n=571) between 13-18 years was purposively selected from 05 schools in Anuradhapura district, Sri Lanka. The level of perceived attraction among students towards tobacco usage was measured as groups on a scale of +10 (highly attractive) to -10 (least attractive) before and after the intervention. This scale was developed together with the students based on pre-determined criteria. Intervention comprised with interactive group discussions on short and long term physical harms due to tobacco usage and industrial strategies to make tobacco products more appealing to adolescents. Group discussions were facilitated by trained health promotion facilitators using videos, posters, photographs, success stories. Students developed plans to reduce attractiveness of tobacco usage inside and outside of schools. One month was given to implement their plans and to report the progress.

Attraction towards tobacco usage was reduced averagely from +5.5 to -3 as a group, while 21% (n=119) of students themselves had taken actions to address the issue. Those actions included conducting informal discussions about short and long term harms of tobacco usage with their school friends (n=80), mocking smoking as a stupid behavior (n=58), sharing Facebook posts and videos to reduce attraction towards tobacco usage (n=10) and hanging posters, distributing hand-made leaflets by students on harms of tobacco inside schools and near shops (n=17).

School adolescents can be empowered to play an active role for reducing attractiveness towards tobacco usage through giving them ownership to carry out actions by themselves.