It is estimated that as many as 31,000 young people aged 11-15 years smoke in the South West and 45 teenagers start smoking every day


Preventing Young People Starting SmokingDECIPHer-ASSIST is a smoking prevention intervention which aims to reduce adolescent smoking prevalence. DECIPHer-ASSIST encourages new norms of smoking behaviour by training influential Year 8 students to work as 'peer educators'.

Peer educators are trained and supported to have informal conversations with other Year 8 students about the risks of smoking and the benefits of being smoke-free. Information is more effectively taken on board if the person giving the message is the same age as them and not a teacher or a parent.

Internationally and in the UK no other schools-based smoking prevention programme has been found to be as effective in such a rigorously conducted large scale randomised trial.

Why it is needed

It is estimated that as many as 31,000 young people aged 11-15 years smoke in the South West and 45 teenagers start smoking every day and it is crucial that we work to tackle this.

Andrea Dickens, Head of Policy and Development, Smokefree South West said:

'This is an excellent intervention to prevent uptake of smoking, which has been shown to be effective. It works with year 8 pupils (12-13 year olds), which is the time at which smoking uptake in young people begins to accelerate.

‘It is fantastic that Smokefree South West has been able to support localities in taking this programme forward by purchasing DECIPHer-ASSIST licences on their behalf from DECIPHer-Impact. The South West will see the first large scale roll out of the programme across the UK with 11 localities participating.

How it works

The first stage in the programme allows for influential students in Year 8 to be identified by their peers. These students are then recruited to become peer educators who are then trained to pass on information relating to the benefits of remaining smoke free by engaging in informal conversations with other students in their year group. The programme takes between 10 and 14 weeks and can add to work already being undertaken by the school.

In order for the programme to be effective, 15% of the children within the year group are trained. Recruiting 18% allows for children who cannot take part on the day due to holidays and illness etc. The training provides the pupils with knowledge and information around the topic of smoking and tobacco use but also provides life skills, improving confidence and communication skills which will benefit the pupils throughout life.

The programme works by following the same steps, which were implemented in the original trial of this successful intervention in order to replicate the results. Large scale evaluation was carried out as part of the trial which determined which elements need to be included in the programme in order to achieve a similar effect. If this evidence based programme is replicated in its entirety, then the translation of the successful results should be seen in many localities.

For more information on DECIPHer-ASSIST please go to