Addiction prevention through the promotion of life skills

What is SmartCoach?

The aim of SmartCoach is to promote life skills in young people. Examples for such life skills are the ability to 1) cope with stress, 2) interact with others and 3) use addictive substances, such as alcohol or social media, in a low-risk way.

Effectiveness confirmed

The effectiveness of SmartCoach was tested in a study with over 1000 secondary school students. SmartCoach was able to prevent the start of tobacco and cannabis use in the longer term, i.e. one and a half years after the start of the program. This could be determined by comparing the data of students who participated in SmartCoach and those who could not participate. The positive results were independent of school type, age and gender.
To the scientific article

Who is SmartCoach aimed at?

SmartCoach is aimed at young people aged 14 who participate with their secondary school class at the program. The young people can participate at SmartCoach with their smartphone. SmartCoach makes use of the wide diffusion of electronic media to reach young people in their current life situation. Individualized text messages (SMS) coaching supports the young people.

What can participants expect?

Initial survey

SmartCoach bases its SMS on the answers from the initial survey. In this way, SmartCoach can address topics that are important for the participants.


Participants are supported for four months via an individualized SMS coaching. This improves their social competences, stress and substance use resistance skills.

Attractive prizes and rewards

Active participation in the SmartCoach program increases the chances of winning attractive prizes, which are raffled among all participants.

Introduction video (German only)

Who is responsible for the implementation?

The Swiss Institute for Public Health and Addiction (ISGF) is responsible for the program in cooperation with the Addiction Prevention Centers of the canton of Zurich. Secondary school classes can participate at SmartCoach between June 2012 and July 2024.

Why is it important to participate?

Young people increasingly suffer from stress and are overwhelmed by everyday challenges. However, stress and challenges mean something different for each young person and can change from day to day. Effective interventions must take these differences into account and be tailored to individual needs. The participating institutions want to find how the SmartCoach can optimally support young people in their individual life situations.