Open Access Research article

Clustering of smoking, alcohol drinking and cannabis use in adolescents in a rapidly developing country

David Faeh1, Bharathi Viswanathan2, Arnaud Chiolero1, Wick Warren3 and Pascal Bovet12*

Author Affiliations

1 University Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Ministry of Health and Social Services, Victoria, Republic of Seychelles

3 Office on Smoking and Health, National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2006, 6:169  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-169

Published: 27 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Smoking, alcohol drinking and cannabis use ("risk behaviors") are often initiated at a young age but few epidemiological studies have assessed their joined prevalence in children in developing countries. This study aims at examining the joint prevalence of these behaviors in adolescents in the Seychelles, a rapidly developing country in the Indian Ocean.

Methods

Cross-sectional survey in a representative sample of secondary school students using an anonymous self-administered questionnaire (Global Youth Tobacco Survey). The questionnaire was completed by 1,321 (92%) of 1,442 eligible students aged 11 to 17 years. Main variables of interest included smoking cigarettes on ≥1 day in the past 30 days; drinking any alcohol beverage on ≥1 day in the past 30 days and using cannabis at least once in the past 12 months.

Results

In boys and girls, respectively, prevalence (95% CI) was 30% (26–34)/21% (18–25) for smoking, 49% (45–54)/48% (43–52) for drinking, and 17% (15–20)/8% (6–10) for cannabis use. The prevalence of all these behaviors increased with age. Smokers were two times more likely than non-smokers to drink and nine times more likely to use cannabis. Drinkers were three times more likely than non-drinkers to smoke or to use cannabis. Comparison of observed versus expected frequencies of combination categories demonstrated clustering of these risk behaviors in students (P < 0.001).

Conclusion

Smoking, drinking and cannabis use were common and clustered among adolescents of a rapidly developing country. These findings stress the need for early and integrated prevention programs.