To determine the cost-effectiveness of a school-based tobacco-use prevention program.
Using data from the previously reported 2-year efficacy study of the Project Toward No Tobacco Use (TNT), we conducted a decision analysis to determine the cost-effectiveness of TNT. The benefits measured were life years (LYs) saved, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) saved, and medical care costs saved, discounted at 3%. The costs measured were program costs. We quantified TNT's cost-effectiveness as cost per LY saved and cost per QALY saved.
A 10-lesson curriculum designed to counteract social influences and misconceptions that lead to tobacco use was delivered by trained health educators to a cohort of 1234 seventh-grade students in 8 junior high schools. A 2-lesson booster session was delivered to the eighth-grade students in the second year. The efficacy evaluation was based on 770 ninth-grade students who participated in the program in the seventh and eighth grades and in both the baseline and the 2-year follow-up survey.
Under base case assumptions, at an intervention cost of $16 403, TNT prevented an estimated 34.9 students from becoming established smokers. As a result, we could expect a saving of $13 316 per LY saved and a saving of $8482 per QALY saved. Results showed TNT to be cost saving over a reasonable range of model parameter estimates.
The TNT is highly cost-effective compared with other widely accepted prevention interventions. School-based prevention programs of this type warrant careful consideration by policy makers and program planners.