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Smoking in young adolescents: an approach with multilevel discrete choice models
  1. J Pinilla,
  2. B González,
  3. P Barber,
  4. Y Santana
  1. Department of Quantitative Methods, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor B González López-Valcárcel, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Department of Quantitative Methods, Campus de Tafira, 35017 Las Palmas, Spain;


Study objective: To understand the context for tobacco smoking in young adolescents, estimating the effects of individual, family, social, and school related factors.

Design: Cross sectional analysis performed by multilevel logistic regression with pupils at the first level and schools at the second level. The data came from a stratified sample of students surveyed on their own, their families' and their friends' smoking habits, their schools, and their awareness of cigarette prices and advertising.

Setting: The study was performed in the Island of Gran Canaria, Spain.

Participants: 1877 students from 30 secondary schools in spring of 2000 (model's effective sample sizes 1697 and 1738) .

Main results: 14.2% of the young teenagers surveyed use tobacco, almost half of them (6.3% of the total surveyed) on a daily basis. According to the ordered logistic regression model, to have a smoker as the best friend increases significantly the probability of smoking (odds ratio: 6.96, 95% confidence intervals (CI) (4.93 to 9.84), and the same stands for one smoker living at home compared with a smoking free home (odds ratio: 2.03, 95% CI 1.22 to 3.36). Girls smoke more (odds ratio: 1.85, 95% CI 1.33 to 2.59). Experience with alcohol, and lack of interest in studies are also significant factors affecting smoking. Multilevel models of logistic regression showed that factors related to the school affect the smoking behaviour of young teenagers. More specifically, whether a school complies with antismoking rules or not is the main factor to predict smoking prevalence in schools. The remainder of the differences can be attributed to individual and family characteristics, tobacco consumption by parents or other close relatives, and peer group.

Conclusions: A great deal of the individual differences in smoking are explained by factors at the school level, therefore the context is very relevant in this case. The most relevant predictors for smoking in young adolescents include some factors related to the schools they attend. One variable stood out in accounting for the school to school differences: how well they enforced the no smoking rule. Therefore we can prevent or delay tobacco smoking in adolescents not only by publicising health risks, but also by better enforcing no smoking rules in schools.

  • tobacco
  • schools
  • adolescents
  • smoking
  • multilevel discrete choice models

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  • * Secondary education in Spain is obligatory for students aged 12–16. It is intended to prepare students for integration in the active population, to enter technical school, or to study bachillerato, the equivalent of high school. The students surveyed were in what is known in Spain as the “segundo año de ESO”.