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Editor,—Whereas different techniques have been proven to effectively prevent and reduce cigarette smoking,1 few attempts have been made to involve the internet in such activities. It can be hypothesised that the active participation of pupils in using this medium could produce positive attitudes towards non-smoking. The general objective of the project “Schools, Internet, and Nonsmoking” is the development, implementation and evaluation of an internet platform for smoking prevention. This platform will be open to pupils, teachers, parents, and researchers.
In a first step, a web site will be created, where the idea of the platform is introduced. On this site, facts and data about non-smoking and current smoking prevention projects will be presented. The site will be updated regularly. To make schools and pupils aware of this platform and to increase prevention-related activities, a yearly competition will be carried out, in which pupils create their own web pages. These pages will be rated by a jury of experts. The best page will be awarded a prize.
The schools participating in the competition would at first create their own “smoking prevention page” showing preventive activities that they carry out in school. Furthermore, the schoolchildren could present their attitudes toward smoking and smoking prevention, their individual work (such as paintings, songs, and writings) and their personal achievements (for example, percentage of pupils who quit smoking).
A competition between schools via the internet appears to combine the following different goals in an ideal way.
The development of individual web pages is in itself a fascinating activity for schoolchildren, thereby providing attractive and reinforcing behavioural alternatives.
The positive experiences gained during the project become associated with the subject of smoking prevention.
The publishing of own smoking prevention activities on the internet—which is accessible worldwide—provides powerful ways of public commitment for schoolchildren as well as teachers. This kind of presentation of results and achievements will create pride in the pupils.
The competition is open to schools in Germany and the United Kingdom. Further information about the project can be found at <http://www.ift-nord.de/in>.
A process and outcome evaluation of the project is currently in progress.
Financially supported by the European Commission.