PURPOSE: The investigation of smoking habits among adolescents (12-18 year old) and differences between smokers and non-smokers which may act as preventive factors.
METHODS: We randomly selected 10% of the whole number of secondary schools in 24 prefectures of Northern Greece. All parents gave informed consent and then students completed unnamed questionnaires. We used two prototype questionnaires which were validated across the 10% of the study population (reproducibility rate: 88.1% for non-smokers and 86.5% for smokers).
RESULTS: We analysed data of 18,904 questionnaires. The mean age (SD) of the students was 15.3±1.7 years while 52% were males. The general percentage of cigarette smoking was 14.2% (84% reported everyday consumption: 15.7±10.6 cigarettes/day). Prevalence of smoking was higher among males (16.4 vs 11.8%), high school students (24.1 vs 5.1%) and residents in urban areas (16 vs 10.7%). The most common reported reasons for cigarette smoking were: curiosity (56.6%), control of unpleasant feelings (38.7%) and friends who smoke (28%). Smokers reported that they started at the age of 13.3±2.3 years. We found that smokers compared to non-smokers had: less educated parents (p<0.001), higher percentages of smoking among siblings and friends (41.4 vs 14.6%, p<0.001 and 92 vs 33%, p<0.001), dealing less with sports (p<0.001), visit more frequently internet cafès (p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of smoking among adolescents in Northern Greece was 14.2%. Education of parents, smoking status of siblings and friends as well as everyday activities are potential preventive factors for smoking among adolescents.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: A well-planned antismoking campaign for adolescents should take into account social factors that differ between smokers and non-smokers.
DISCLOSURE: The following authors have nothing to disclose: Despina Pelagidou, Dionisios Spyratos, Diamantis Chloros, Anna-Bettina Haidich, Eleni Karetsi, Christina Koubaniou, Mihalis Toumbis, Stavros Konstantopoulos, Konstantinos Gourgoulianis, Lazaros Sichletidis
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