One thousand school boys aged 8 to 16 were examined for their somatotype, physical growth, sexual maturation, and smoking habits. Fifty-two boys were found to be smokers, of whom 30 were regularly smoking between two and 20 bidis or cigarettes a day for a mean duration of 2.5 years. The mean height and weight of the smokers was significantly lower than that of the non-smokers at all ages, more so in regular than occasional smokers. Sixty-nine per cent of the smokers had mesomorphic type of body build; about 65% of the non-smokers had ectomorphic somatotype (P less than 0.001). Onset of puberty occurred significantly earlier among smokers compared with non-smokers, as was evident from the early appearance of genital stage 2, and an early and rapid increase in testicular size. Genital stage 2 appeared at a mean age of 11 years in smokers and 11.6 years in non-smokers. However, the appearance of pubic, axillary, and facial hair was delayed. The possible significance of this is discussed.
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