Factors which may influence boys and girls aged between 10 and 121/2 years to start smoking were studied. Information was obtained from 491 schoolchildren, their parents, and headteachers. In their own view and that of their headteachers children who did not smoke were academically better than smokers. Children who smoked were more likely than non-smokers to have a parent and siblings of the same sex who smoked. No association was found between the child's own smoking and that of parents and siblings of the opposite sex. Smokers were more likely to have friends who smoked. Most children did not think smoking was enjoyable or desirable and many thought it bad for health, irrespective of their own smoking habits. The majority thought people of their own age smoked to show off.
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