Youth have access to more health information than ever in the past. Yet, health risk behaviour such as cigarette smoking continues to be of concern. How do we more effectively engage youth in health promotion and behaviour change? One innovative solution is the Internet.
This handout describes a Web-based intervention, the Smoking Zine, which can be accessed directly at www.smokingzine.org. The Smoking Zine is organized according to five interactive stages based on social cognitive theory and the transtheoretical model:
Step 1: Makin? Cents (consciousness raising)
Step 2: It?s My Life (assessment)
Step 3: To Change or Not to Change (readiness for change)
Step 4: It?s Your Decision (decision balance regarding the pros and cons of change)
Step 5: What Now (cognitive behaviour strategies for smoking cessation).
Harvey Skinner, PhD
Professor and Chair
Dept. of Public Health Sciences
University of Toronto
Principal Investigator ? TeenNet Research
Jill Charnaw-Burger, MSc
TeenNet Research Program
Tel: (416) 946-0096
What is it?
The Smoking Zine is a multilingual, interactive website designed to promote healthy decision-making with youth around tobacco use. Using games, quizzes and self-assessment tools, youth complete a five-stage programme that encourages them to think about the reasons they might smoke and their reasons not to.
Who is it designed for?
The Smoking Zine was created for youth ages 12 to 19 who are interested in exploring tobacco. The Zine is designed to help smokers explore reasons to stop or cut down smoking while helping non-smokers strengthen their resolve not to smoke.
Where can I find the Smoking Zine?
You can go directly to The Zine at www.smokingzine.org.
Who or what is the TeenNet Project?
TeenNet is a youth-oriented research organization based in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Toronto. TeenNet has conducted research on innovative ways of engaging youth in health promotion through technology since 1995.
Where can I find out more about the Smoking Zine or TeenNet?
TeenNet has a website, or you can contact
Dr. Harvey Skinner, Principal Investigator or Jill Charnaw-Burger, Project Coordinator
How does it work?
TeenNet is a research organization, so before youth enter the Smoking Zine they are asked to register and choose a nickname and password. Youth can choose not to be part of TeenNet Research. The information youth provide and their use of the Smoking Zine is confidential and anonymous. TeenNet respects youth?s right to privacy!
The Smoking Zine has 5 different steps that are designed to increase youth?s understanding of the challenges they face in quitting, cutting down or resisting the temptation to smoke. Upon completion of the 5 steps, youth are presented with a summary of their results and some options for ?next steps?. For example, if a smoker is interested in quitting, the Zine will help them develop a personalized quit plan. Youth who have completed the Zine are encouraged to return at a later time to redo the quizzes to see if any change has occurred.
Step 1: Makin? Cents
?Makin? Cents? helps youth to become aware of the amount of money they spend on cigarettes and how it can affect their lifestyle. The youth select the number of cigarette packs they smoke (or would smoke) in one month and the game automatically calculates the total amount per year. Then the cigarette packs are used as currency in a virtual shopping mall where youth can spend the equivalent of one year?s cigarettes and see what buying power it has.
Step 2: It?s Your Life
In this informative quiz, youth identify themselves as a smoker, non-smoker, or an experimental/ social smoker. Completing the quiz assists youth in becoming aware of: why they smoke, their smoking patterns, and what triggers their smoking urges.
Step 3: To Change or Not to Change
This quiz is tailored to youth?s smoking behavior (as identified in Step 2) and allows them to assess their readiness to change their smoking behaviour. In addition to readiness, youth are asked how important this change is and their confidence in being able to change. Upon completion of Step 3, youth are presented with their results as well as a positive message.
Step 4: It?s Your Decision
This section creates an informative matrix that displays the pros and cons related to smoking and being smoke free. Upon completion of the matrix, youth can clearly see their thoughts on smoking and motivations to quit, stay the same, or start smoking. This layout can help youth advance towards a decision.
Step 5: What Now?
This section brings together the results from the previous steps in an easy and comprehensive format. If youth have identified that they are ready to quit, the Zine will create a personalized quit smoking program. If the youth are not ready to quit then the Zine will take them to the Personal Forecast quiz. This quiz helps youth look at some of the reasons for their choice to continue smoking. The quiz also looks at other areas in their life that may relate to their smoking behavior, such as social support and relationships.
Creating a Quit Plan using the Smoking Zine
Using the Smoking Zine, youth interested in quitting can create a comprehensive personalized quit plan that includes:
? Setting a goal
? Finding out what situations and events trigger smoking
? Choosing a quitting method
? Learning how to fight triggers/temptations, and deal with withdrawal symptoms.
? Identifying those people who?ll be supportive and those who won?t
? Setting a Quit Date
? Creating a Quitting Contract
? Learning how to deal with Slip-ups
? Writing in an on-line journal (Blog)
Funding for this program has been provided in part by the Ontario Tobacco Strategy, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and Health Canada Tobacco Control Programs