BACKGROUND: The prevalence of smoking among secondary school children continues to remain unchanged over the last 3 decades even though awareness regarding the health effects of smoking is increasing. Common misconceptions about smoking and parental influence could be factors influencing future intentions to smoke among these students. Hence, we looked at the common misconceptions as well as student perceptions about their future intention to smoke among Form 4 students in Shah Alam, Malaysia.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study was conducted by distribution of a questionnaire developed as part of the Global Youth Tobacco Survey to Form 4 student in 3 schools at Shah Alam.
RESULTS: Prevalence of smoking (current smokers) was 7.5%. Almost half of the children came from families where one or both parents smoked and a third of the parents had no discussion regarding consequences of smoking with them. A large number of students were classified as "triers" as they had tried smoking and were unsure of whether they would not be smoking in the future. Contrary to our expectations, students generally felt smoking did make one feel more uncomfortable and helped one to reduce body weight. Most students seemed to be aware of the ill-effects of smoking on health. They felt they had received adequate information from school regarding the effects on smoking on health.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed that even though Form 4 students in Shah Alam were knowledgeable about ill-effects of smoking and were taught so as part of their school curriculum, the prevalence of smoking was still high. Students in the "trier group" represent a potential group of future smokers and strategies targeting tobacco control may be aimed at tackling these vulnerable individuals. Efforts are also needed to help educate secondary school children about common misconceptions and dispel myths associated with cigarette smoking.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.