It has been suggested that regular sporting practice might have a positive impact on smoking habits in young people. We tried to assess this impact in a group of adolescents.
Students at the same school, aged 14 to 20 years, were studied with a questionnaire relative to smoking habits, knowledge of tobacco risks, impact of media and school messages about smoking. Two groups were distinguished : a sporting department (more than 8 hours sporting per week), and a traditional section (less than 3 hours).
212 students were examined with a detailed questionnaire and 208 of them were fully completed and relevant : 122 in the sporting section, 86 in the other group. 70 % of boys and 66 % of girls are non smokers in the sporting section, versus respectively 64 and 57 % in the other group. In both groups, 90 % of smokers intend to stop definitely in the near future. Teaching messages at school are poorly received, but information carried by the media is well perceived and tobacco risks are generally known but addiction is massively misjudged. When they are smokers, there is no significant difference of consumption habits between the 2 groups. The use of drugs or alcoholic consumption is quite exclusively related with the group of smokers.
Intensive sporting practice at school reduces significantly, but moderately, the risk to become a regular smoker.
Intensive sporting practice at school seems to be a useful weapon for tobacco prevention in young people. But it is also clear that an improved policy and a better information on smoking is needed at school, with particular attention on the risks of addiction.
Dominique Lauwers, None.