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You are here: Home Modules Module Examples Module 1 Examples Example 10 - Tobacco-free living and young adults
Example 10 - Tobacco-free living and young adults Print E-mail
Module 1 Examples

Need: How big is the problem?

According to the 1996/7 National Health Survey, smoking rates were highest among young adults, 35.5 per cent compared to 28.9 per cent for the total population. But when Ottawa’s public health unit started to look at the problem, it found little information on effective interventions for that age group.

The Ottawa health unit looked at factors related to the developmental stage of young adults. The transition between adolescence and adulthood makes 18- to 25-year-olds particularly vulnerable to smoking and resistant to anti-smoking campaigns. Risk factors in that transition include the high stress of post-secondary education and joining the work force; shifts in social context because of moving or changing peer groups, and increasing independence. Smoking that begins with experimentation in adolescence has the potential to become entrenched in young adulthood, leading to lifelong addiction.

The working group also looked at environmental factors. Tobacco smoke in university residences, social settings and typical workplaces was highlighted as a particularly significant contributing factor in the lives of young adults.


Potential impact: How much can we fix it?

We know smoking is a behaviour that can be changed. Smoking rates have been reduced and smoking uptake delayed or prevented. Public health interventions to stop smoking for both adults and adolescents have successfully supported prevention, protection and quitting. There are also effective public-health interventions to prevent drug and alcohol use by this age group.


Appropriateness: Are we the best people to do it?

Public health had a clear mandate to address this issue, including from the provincial government’s Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines. Their goal was to reduce the proportion of adults who smoke daily to 15 per cent by 2005. The health unit was particularly well positioned to address the problem because of its mix of health education and support for healthy public policy and environments.

The health unit already had a robust and well-resourced anti-smoking program with strong support from all levels of management, and knew at least one local university was planning to work toward smoke-free residences. This university had requested assistance from the health unit with strategies for this initiative.  As well, the health unit had partnerships and links that would facilitate access to this population and assist in establishing credibility.


Capacity: Are we able to do it?

There was already an interest in exploring how health-unit programs could collaborate to deliver more comprehensive programming, so resources for the project were made possible through cross-program co-operation. The health unit also had a partnership with the local school of nursing and a university-based research unit for direction and expertise on assessing and evaluating early implementation.

The health unit staff were members of anti-smoking networks for public health practitioners across the province and country, as well as internationally. These networks could be mined to provide information on promising intervention strategies and assessment processes.


Allies and partners: Who will help us?

There was a broad range of partners available and willing to provide assistance and support: university-based researchers and students, university health professionals, university residence management, community groups such as YMCA-YWCA, community partners who could provide access to young adults, and other health professionals working in tobacco use prevention

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2009 13:51