Reducing smoking in adolescents: cost-effectiveness results from the cluster randomized ASSIST (A Stop Smoking In Schools Trial).
Hollingworth W., Cohen D., Hawkins J., Hughes RA., Moore LAR., Holliday JC., Audrey S., Starkey F., Campbell R.
INTRODUCTION: School-based smoking prevention programmes can be effective, but evidence on cost-effectiveness is lacking. We conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis of a school-based "peer-led" intervention. METHODS: We evaluated the ASSIST (A Stop Smoking In Schools Trial) programme in a cluster randomized controlled trial. The ASSIST programme trained students to act as peer supporters during informal interactions to encourage their peers not to smoke. Fifty-nine secondary schools in England and Wales were randomized to receive the ASSIST programme or usual smoking education. Ten thousand seven hundred and thirty students aged 12-13 years attended participating schools. Previous work has demonstrated that the ASSIST programme achieved a 2.1% (95% CI = 0%-4.2%) reduction in smoking prevalence. We evaluated the public sector cost, prevalence of weekly smoking, and cost per additional student not smoking at 24 months. RESULTS: The ASSIST programme cost of £32 (95% CI = £29.70-£33.80) per student. The incremental cost per student not smoking at 2 years was £1,500 (95% CI = £669-£9,947). Students in intervention schools were less likely to believe that they would be a smoker at age 16 years (odds ratio [OR] = 0.80; 95% CI = 0.66-0.96). CONCLUSIONS: A peer-led intervention reduced smoking among adolescents at a modest cost. The intervention is cost-effective under realistic assumptions regarding the extent to which reductions in adolescent smoking lead to lower smoking prevalence and/or earlier smoking cessation in adulthood. The annual cost of extending the intervention to Year 8 students in all U.K. schools would be in the region of £38 million and could result in 20,400 fewer adolescent smokers.