In the MRC/Derbyshire Smoking Study a cohort of about 6000 adolescents was surveyed annually from 1974 when they entered secondary school aged 11-12 years until 1978 when they reached 15-16 years. In 1981 after the adolescents had left school they were again surveyed by post. Each year from 1974 to 1978 and again in 1981 they answered a questionnaire on their smoking behaviour and other issues. Information on the schools attended by these adolescents was obtained from their teachers and headteachers. This paper examines the relation between the school environment and the adolescents' smoking behaviour both before and after leaving school. The prevalence of smoking was higher among those boys who attended schools that were single sex, non-denominational, or had a parent-teacher association, no health education, no female teachers, or whose headteacher smoked cigarettes. Among girls the prevalence of smoking was higher if they attended a school that had optional school uniform and no health or antismoking education. The importance of these findings for the development of effective preventive measures is discussed.
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