PURPOSE: To determine the prevalence of smoking among high school students in a tobacco-producing region, and to try to analyze when and how smoking pattens become established.
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional survey of smoking prevalence among high school students in Ilocos Sur, Philippines. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to students (Levels I-IV) from randomly selected public high schools. The items included in the 16-point questionnaire were adopted from the Action Plan on Tobacco by the Regional Committee from Europe. Data were analyzed using the Epi-Info Statistical Analysis Program.
RESULTS: Survey results included a total of 2,714 student-responders with age range 10-20 years (mean age 13.9 years). 54% were males and 46% were females. Over-all, 31.6% of high school students have tried smoking, majority of whom experienced this in their early teens. A significantly higher incidence of smoking in the family is observed in ever-smokers compared to non-smokers. For ever-smokers, the primary reason for trying to smoke is peer influence. Parental influence and working in a tobacco farm/trading center are other significant reasons. The students’ main reasons for trying to quit smoking are to protect their health, and to be able to set a good example.
CONCLUSION: This survrey showed that approximately 31.6% of students in a tobacco-producing region have tried smoking (compared to 29.6% in Metro Manila); 22.8% are current smokers; majority of the students started smoking in their early teens; peer influence is the primary reason for trying to smoske and for smoking again after quitting; and more family members smoke in the home of ever-smokers and current smokers.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Results of this survey will serve as baseline information with which to monitor influences of health education activities among high school students, and from which policies on smoking prevention and tobacco control particularly in the school setting, will be based.This is very important since Ilocos Sur produces 95.6% of the Philippines’virginia tobacco, making it an easy target for the marketing and promotional activities of cigarette companies.
DISCLOSURE: Deanna Quilala, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information