Are Danish vocational schools ready to implement "smoke-free school hours"? A qualitative study informed by the theory of organizational readiness for change

Anneke Vang Hjort, Michael Schreuders, Kathrine Højlund Rasmussen, Charlotte Demant Klinker


BACKGROUND: The smoking prevalence is high among students enrolled in vocational education and training, which is considered a lower level of education. The school tobacco policy regarding smoke-free school hours stipulates that students and staff are not allowed to smoke during school hours-inside or outside school premises-and it might be an effective intervention for reducing smoking in vocational schools. For school tobacco policies to be effective, they must be appropriately implemented. A primary predictor for successful implementation is organizational readiness for change. This study seeks to identify and understand the barriers to and facilitators for developing organizational readiness to implement smoke-free school hours in Danish vocational schools.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were carried out with managers and teachers (n = 22 participants) from six vocational schools. The interview guides were informed by "A theory of organizational readiness for change" developed by Weiner, which was also used as a framework to analyze the data.

RESULTS: We identified 13 facilitators and barriers. Nine factors acted as facilitators, including the following: believing that health promotion is a school role and duty; believing that society and workplaces are becoming more smoke-free, and believing that smoke-free school hours is a beneficial strategy to achieve fewer educational interruptions. Additional facilitators include establishing clear rules for sanctioning and enforcement, developing a joint understanding about smoke-free school hours, developing skills to deal with student responses to smoke-free school hours, establishing social alternatives to smoking, offering smoking cessation help, and mandating smoke-free school hours by law. Four organizational norms, practices, or discourses acted as barriers: believing that smoke-free school hours violate personal freedom, believing that students have more important problems than smoking, believing that it is difficult to administer the level of enforcement, and believing that the enforcement of smoke-free school hours negatively influences student-teacher relations.

DISCUSSION: Our results suggest that developing organizational readiness before adopting a comprehensive tobacco policy such as smoke-free school hours is important for successful implementation. Further research should investigate how to strengthen the facilitators for and counter the barriers to developing readiness for implementing smoke-free school hours.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalImplementation science communications
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)40
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2021


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