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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


VERRA, Fernando et al. Tobacco use among secondary school students in Argentina. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2009, vol.25, n.3, pp.227-233. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the prevalence of smoking among Argentine adolescents and describe its usage, factors related to taking up the habit, and exposure to second-hand smoke in the home. METHODS: A cross-sectional study conducted through an anonymous survey of students 12-18 years of age in either the 8th grade of basic education or in the second course of high school or polytechnic school. The study took place in 2002 at 239 school within five urban centers of Argentina (Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Partidos del Gran Buenos Aires, Gran Córdoba, Gran Mendoza, and Santa Fe). The random sample was stratified by socioeconomic level and rates were calculated according to an expanded sample composed of samplings from each stage. RESULTS: The survey was completed by 11 734 students (50.5% males; 44.1% were 12-14 years of age and 56.7% were 15-18 years). In all, 30.0% of the males and 35.0% of the females were smokers at the time of the survey (22.5% in the 12-14 year age group and 40.1% in the 15-18 group). The main reason given for taking up smoking was " to see what it was like" (43.7%); 44.3% of the students who smoked did so when they felt anxious. In all, 64.5% claimed they wanted to stop and 72.5% had attempted to quit, although fewer than 8% of the smokers had gotten any professional help to do so. The overwhelming majority considered it unhealthy to smoke tobacco (93.5%) and be around second-hand smoke (89.6%). Only 30.4% felt they had not received enough information on detrimental effects of smoking. More than 70% of the adolescents were living with a smoker. CONCLUSIONS: There is a high rate of smoking among Argentine students, especially females. Policies must be established that will prevent smoking initiation in secondary school. Recommendations are to prohibit tobacco-product advertising and to require stronger health warnings labels.

Keywords : Smoking; adolescent behavior; Argentina.

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