Comparing Effects of Tobacco Use Prevention Modalities: Need for Complex Systems Models

Many modalities of tobacco use prevention programming have been implemented including various policy regulations (tax increases, warning labels, limits on access, smoke-free policies, and restrictions on marketing), mass media programming, school-based classroom education, family involvement, and involvement of community agents (i.e., medical, social, political). The present manuscript provides a glance at these modalities to compare relative and combined impact of them on youth tobacco use. In a majority of trials, community-wide programming, which includes multiple modalities, has not been found to achieve impacts greater than single modality programming. Possibly, the most effective means of prevention involves a careful selection of program type combinations. Also, it is likely that a mechanism for coordinating maximally across program types (e.g., staging of programming) is needed to encourage a synergistic impact. Studying tobacco use prevention as a complex system is considered as a means to maximize effects from combinations of prevention types. Future studies will need to more systematically consider the role of combined programming.


January 2013

Steve Sussman
David Levy
Kristen Hassmiller Lich
Crystal W Cené
Mimi M Kim
Louise A Rohrbach
Frank J Chaloupka