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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2002 Apr;26(2):156-63.

Changes in the use of tobacco among Australian secondary students: results of the 1999 prevalence study and comparisons with earlier years.

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Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Control Research Institute, Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, Carlton South.



To estimate smoking prevalence among Australian secondary students in 1999 and to examine trends in smoking-related behaviours since 1984.


A randomly selected representative sample of 399 secondary schools from across Australia participated in the study. At each school, up to 80 randomly selected students completed a pencil-and-paper questionnaire anonymously. Data from 25,486 students aged between 12 and 17 years are reported.


Current smoking (smoking in the week before the survey) was 6% in boys and girls aged 12, and rose to a peak prevalence among 17-year-olds of 33% for boys and 30% for girls. Comparisons across survey years showed that while fewer 12-to-15-year-olds were current smokers in 1999 than in 1996, among 16- and 17-year-olds, the proportion of current smokers in 1999 and 1996 was similar. Students who smoked were less likely to buy their cigarettes in 1999 than in previous surveys. Both older and younger secondary students were more likely to have received lessons about tobacco in the school year prior to the 1999 survey than were students in the 1996 survey.


The rise in the prevalence of smoking among younger secondary students seen in the 1990s seems to have stopped and smoking prevalence has declined.


Extrapolating from this survey, we estimate that nearly 269,000 12-to-17-year-old students were current smokers in 1999. If they all continue to smoke, 134,000 would die prematurely.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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