Preventing smoking in teenagers
22 May 2013
A ten-year study that reduced the uptake of smoking among adolescents by training influential students to act as peer supporters has been recognised for its success with a prestigious University award.
The ASSIST programme, led by Professor Laurence Moore of Cardiff School of Social Sciences and Professor Rona Campbell of the University of Bristol, in partnership with DECIPHer Impact Ltd, was awarded the Innovation in Healthcare Award at the Innovation and Impact Awards 2013.
The team was presented with the award by Jeff Pearson, Chief Executive of Geldards in a ceremony at the University where guests included the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones. The awards are sponsored by Geldards Law Firm and Fusion IP.
Developed by Cardiff University, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, the ASSIST programme was evaluated in a large-scale randomised trial funded by the Medical Research Council. It devised and tested processes to effectively identify and use influential students to promote smoke free as a positive choice through conversations and social networking.
In 2008 the programme was rolled out across Wales, in Tower Hamlets Borough Council and NHS Bristol. To support the roll out, Cardiff and Bristol Universities set up DECIPHer Impact Ltd and the ASSIST programme was exclusively licensed to the spin-out company.
Since DECIPHer Impact Ltd's creation, 24 licences have been sold to Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities across the UK. More than 38,000 students have taken part in the programme since licensing began and based on an upward trend, 65,000 year 8 students will have taken part by summer 2013, with an associated reduction of 1,350 smokers expected. In the years ahead, the company - which now employs two staff - aims to license and distribute other evidence-based public health interventions and broaden its collaborations with other academic institutions.
Professor Laurence Moore said: "Through the ASSIST programme we identified an innovative, theory-led intervention that is both cost-effective and successful in reducing smoking rates among adolescents. To make sure we maximised its impact and implementation throughout the UK and beyond, we set up DECIPHer Impact Ltd which has helped to bridge the gap between academics and policy makers and is facilitating translation of this innovation practice."
The Innovation and Impact Awards Competition is organised by the Cardiff University Innovation Network; the business/university network established in 1996. They provide an opportunity for Cardiff academic staff to showcase their innovative collaborations with business and other non-academic organisations, demonstrating the positive impact that universities can have on economy and society.