Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
PADGETT, Diana Irene; SELWYN, Beatrice Jo and KELDER, Steven Harold. Ecuadorian adolescents and cigarette smoking: a cross-sectional survey. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1998, vol.4, n.2, pp.87-93. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891998000800003.
This study investigates adolescents' attitudes and behaviors toward cigarette smoking in Ecuador. Using social cognitive theory as a basis, the cross-sectional survey focuses attention on such social influences as the smoking habits of family members and peers, as well as on the role of cigarette advertisements. Data on prevalence of actual use, access to cigarettes, and knowledge and attitudes about smoking are also obtained. The survey was conducted during the summer of 1994 in both urban and rural areas. Fifty schools in 40 different communities participated, resulting in a sample of 2625 adolescents aged 9 to 15 years who completed the self-administered questionnaire. This study was conducted in collaboration with Amigos de las Américas (AMIGOS), an international health organization. Staff and volunteers who participated in projects conducted by AMIGOS in Ecuador worked with local health and education officials to implement the survey. Nearly 9% of students identified themselves as current smokers, 24.5% had experimented with smoking, and 61.1% had never smoked. The results varied significantly by age and gender, with older students and boys smoking at the highest rate. The smoking status of family members and peers also significantly predicted student smoking status. The results from this sample replicate findings from North American samples. Although Ecuadorian students smoke somewhat less than their American counterparts, cigarette smoking in Ecuador is a significant public health problem and clearly warrants a coordinated response. The present study points to several strategies for preventing smoking among youth.