School prevention program can dramatically cut teen cigarette smoking in Italy

Results from a new multi-year initiative provide further evidence that a school prevention program called Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) can dramatically cut teen cigarette smoking. After identifying LST as the top-rated prevention program, researchers in Italy translated the LST program into Italian and adapted it for Italian youth. Preliminary data show that the LST program cut the rate of cigarette smoking by 40% among participating Italian youth compared to those who did not receive the program. The results were presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Previous research with LST shows that it prevents tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, violence, and delinquency.

Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, developer of the LST program, and Dr. Veronica Velasco, a psychologist and researcher at The Regional Observatory on Drug Addiction (OReD) of Lombardy, Italy (who participated via video) reported that LST also increased drug refusal skills and anti-drug attitudes compared to controls, and increased adaptive coping skills, interpersonal skills, and sense of well-being among participating students (ages 11-14). 

"The results of the LST project in Italy are very consistent with what we've seen here in the US," said Dr. Botvin, professor emeritus at Cornell University's Weill Medical College. "LST arms teens with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to resist negative influences to use drugs from friends and the media. And it gives them the skills and resilience needed to cope with life's many challenges."

The Regional Observatory on Drug Addiction (OReD) of Lombardy, Italy, is spearheading this project. Ultimately, they hope to see that all students in the country receive the LST program. The OReD of Lombardy, under the auspices of Eupolis Lombardia and in association with the Regional Network on Addiction Prevention, supports prevention programs throughout the schools in its region.

"We chose LST because it was clearly the highest quality program available, and it was also very important to us that LST is evidence-based, and fits all 16 NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) principles of prevention," said Dr. Velasco. "Approximately 1,800 teachers and 30,000 students from 180 schools are participating in one of the first region-wide health projects ever delivered in Italy."

The project started in Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region, and then expanded to the rest of Lombardy. Lombardy is a very densely populated area (10 million people) with 15 health communities.


Botvin LifeSkills Training



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