With over 600 000 participants in 16 countries, the smokefree class competition is one of the largest smoking prevention programmes in Europe. Participating classes that maintain a smoking prevalence usually below 10% are eligible for a contest and the winner is rewarded with money. There is however no convincing evidence that this competition has any effect on smoking prevalence beyond the short term, and this approach raises serious ethical issues. In particular, the central principle of this competition is to apply negative peer pressure upon teenage smokers. However, promoters of this competition have neglected to report the possible adverse consequences of using negative peer pressure upon smokers. This is a concern, because teenage smokers are more vulnerable than non-smokers, and they are at higher risk of suffering from psychological problems and school failure.
- school based services
- primary prevention
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Competing interests: none.