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Open Access Research article

A cross-country comparison of tobacco consumption among youths from selected South-Asian countries

Mohammad Alamgir Kabir12*, Kim-Leng Goh3 and Mobarak Hossain Khan4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Applied Statistics, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 50603, Malaysia

2 Department of Statistics, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka, 1342, Bangladesh

3 Department of Applied Statistics, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 50603, Malaysia

4 Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health, Bielefeld University, Postfach 100131, Bielefeld, D-33501, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:379  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-379

Published: 23 April 2013



Tobacco consumption (TC) among youths poses significant public health problem in developing countries. This study utilized the data of Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), 2007 to examine and compare youth TC behavior in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.


The GYTS covered a total of 2,242 Bangladeshi, 1,444 Nepalese and 1,377 Sri-Lankan youths aged 13ā€“15 years. They represented response rates of 88.9%, 94.6%, and 85.0% for the three countries, respectively. Socioeconomic, environmental, motivating, and programmatic predictors of TC were examined using cross tabulations and logistic regressions.


Prevalence of TC was 6.9% (9.1% in males, 5.1% in females) in Bangladesh, 9.4% (13.2% in males, 5.3% in females) in Nepal and 9.1% (12.4% in males, 5.8% in females) in Sri Lanka. The average tobacco initiation age was 9.6, 10.24 and 8.61 years, respectively. Cross tabulations showed that gender, smoking among parents and friends, exposure to smoking at home and public places, availability of free tobacco were significantly (Pā€‰<ā€‰0.001) associated with TC in all three countries. The multivariable analysis [odds ratio (95% confidence interval)] indicated that the common significant predictors for TC in the three countries were TC among friends [1.9 (1.30-2.89) for Bangladesh, 4.10 (2.64-6.38) for Nepal, 2.34 (1.36-4.02) for Sri Lanka], exposure to smoking at home [1.7 (1.02-2.81) for Bangladesh, 1.81 (1.08-2.79) for Nepal, 3.96 (1.82-8.62) for Sri Lanka], exposure to smoking at other places [2.67 (1.59-4.47) for Bangladesh, 5.22 (2.76-9.85) for Nepal, 1.76 (1.05-2.88) for Sri Lanka], and the teaching of smoking hazards in schools [0.56 (0.38-0.84) for Bangladesh, 0.60 (0.41-0.89) for Nepal, 0.58 (0.35-0.94) for Sri Lanka].


An understanding of the influencing factors of youth TC provides helpful insights for the formulation of tobacco control policies in the South-Asian region.

Developing country; Global youth tobacco Survey; Secondary school students; Tobacco consumption