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Open Access Research article

Prevalence and social environment of cigarette smoking in Cyprus youth

Costas A Christophi123*, Ourania Kolokotroni1, Hillel R Alpert4, Charles W Warren5, Nathan R Jones5, Philip Demokritou12 and Gregory N Connolly4

Author Affiliations

1 Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health in association with Harvard School of Public Health, Nicosia, Cyprus

2 Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

3 The Biostatistics Center, The George Washington University, Rockville, MD, USA

4 Division of Public Health Practice, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

5 Office for Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:190  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-190

Published: 2 June 2008

Abstract

Background

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in humans. Limited data exist regarding the extent of the problem among Cyprus youth. We use the Global Youth Tobacco Survey to assess the prevalence of cigarette smoking among middle and high school students as well as the social environment in which this is taking place.

Methods

The survey was conducted by the Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health in association with Harvard School of Public Health. A two-stage cluster sample design was used to select a representative sample of students from middle and high schools registered with the Republic of Cyprus in 2005–2006. The study questionnaire consisted of 99 questions and participation in the survey was voluntary. Statistical analyses were performed taking into consideration the specific design of the study and the sample weights associated with each completed questionnaire.

Results

The prevalence of current smoking, defined as having smoked cigarettes on one or more days of the past 30 days, is 13% among boys and 7% among girls in middle schools, and 36% among boys and 23% among girls in high schools. Furthermore, 16% of middle school students and more than 24% of high school students that had never smoked indicated that they are likely to initiate smoking within the next year. Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is also very high with 91% of students reporting being exposed to smoke in places outside home. In addition, more than 95% of current smokers reported that they had bought cigarettes in a store during the past month and were not refused cigarettes because of their age.

Conclusion

Smoking prevalence among Cyprus middle and high school students is high and there are indications of an increase in the prevalence of smoking among girls over the last few years. Susceptibility rates, exposure to second-hand smoke, and access to and availability of cigarettes to youth are also high and concerning. The present survey indicates that the problem of cigarette smoking among youth in Cyprus is significant and requires collective action immediately.