Open Access Research article

Tobacco smoking in Mongolia: findings of a national knowledge, attitudes and practices study

Alessandro R Demaio12*, Jessica Nehme2, Dugee Otgontuya3, Dan Wolf Meyrowitsch4 and Palam Enkhtuya3

Author Affiliations

1 Harvard Global Equity Initiative, Harvard Medical School, 651 Huntington Avenue, 02115 Boston, MA, USA

2 Copenhagen School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen, PO Box 2099, Dk-1014 Copenhagen K, Denmark

3 National Center for Public Health, Ministry of Health of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

4 Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, P.O. Box 2099, 1014 Copenhagen K, Denmark

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2014, 14:213  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-213

Published: 28 February 2014



In 2009, 48% of males aged 15 or over in Mongolia consumed tobacco, placing Mongolia among the countries with the highest prevalence of male smokers in the world. Importantly, tobacco use is one of the four major risk factors contributing to the global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – the leading cause of mortality in Mongolia. However, the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the Mongolian population with regards to smoking are largely unmeasured. In this context, a national NCDs knowledge, attitudes and practices survey focusing, among other things, on NCD risk factors was implemented in Mongolia in late 2010 to complement the previous WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance Survey (STEPS) findings from 2009. This publication explores the smoking-related findings of the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Survey (KAPS).


A nationally representative sample size was calculated using methodologies aligned with the WHO STEPS surveys. As a result, 3450 people from across Mongolia were selected using a multi-stage, random cluster sampling method from permanent residents aged between 15 and 64 years. The KAP survey questionnaire was interviewer-administered on a door-to-door basis.


In Mongolia at 2010, 46.3% of males and 6.8% of females were smokers. This practice was especially dominant among males and urban dwellers (MOR 2.2), and more so among the middle-aged (45–54) (MOR 2.1) while still displaying a high prevalence among Mongolian youth (15.5%). The probability of smoking was independent of the level of education. Although the level of awareness of the health hazards related to tobacco smoking was generally very high in the population, this was influenced by the level of education as more people with a primary and secondary level of education believed that smoking at least one pack of cigarette per day was required to harm one’s health (MOR 5.8 for primary education and 2.5 for secondary). Finally, this knowledge did not necessarily translate into a behavioural outcome as 15.5% of the population did not object to people smoking in their house, and especially so among males (MOR 4.1).


The findings of this KAP survey corroborate the 2009 WHO STEPS Survey findings with regards to the prevalence of tobacco smoking in Mongolia. It identifies males, urban dwellers and Mongolian youth as groups that should be targeted by public health measures on tobacco consumption, while keeping in mind that higher levels of awareness of the harms caused by tobacco smoking do not necessarily translate into behavioural changes.

Smoking; Non-communicable diseases; Epidemiology; Mongolia; Asia; KAP; Policy; Health