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Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2008 Sep;12(9):1085-91.

Cigarettes and waterpipe smoking among medical students in Syria: a cross-sectional study.

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Department of Family & Community Medicine, Damascus University, Damascus, Syria.



To investigate tobacco use, beliefs and attitudes among medical students in Syria.


A cross-sectional study of a random sample of 570 medical students (first and fifth year) registered at the Damascus University Faculty of Medicine in 2006-2007. We used a self-administered questionnaire for demo-graphic information, smoking behaviour (cigarette, waterpipe), family and peer smoking, attitudes and beliefs about smoking and future role in advising patients to quit smoking.


The overall prevalence of tobacco use was 10.9% for cigarettes (15.8% men, 3.3% women), 23.5% for waterpipe (30.3% men, 13.4% women) and 7.3% for both (10.1% men, 3.1% women). Both smoking methods were more popular among the fifth year students (15.4% and 27%) compared to their younger counterparts (6.6% and 19.7%). Regular smoking patterns predominated for cigarettes (62%), while occasional use patterns predominated for waterpipes (83%). More than two thirds of students (69%) thought they might not address or would have difficulty addressing smoking in their future patients.


The level of tobacco use among Syrian medical students is alarming and highlights the rapidly changing patterns of waterpipe use, especially among female students. Medical schools should work harder to tackle this phenomenon and address it more efficiently in their curricula.

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