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Prev Chronic Dis. 2010 Nov;7(6):A129. Epub 2010 Oct 15.

The influence of school policies on smoking prevalence among students in grades 5-9, Canada, 2004-2005.

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School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, 5804 Fairview Ave, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3.



School characteristics may account for some of the variation in smoking prevalence among schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between characteristics of school tobacco policies and school smoking prevalence. We also examined the relationship between these characteristics and individual smoking status.


Tobacco policy data were collected from schools in 10 Canadian provinces during the 2004-2005 school year. Written tobacco policies were collected from each school to examine policy intent, and school administrators were surveyed to assess policy enforcement. Students in grades 5 through 9 completed the Youth Smoking Survey to assess smoking behaviors and attitudes. We used negative binomial regression and multilevel logistic regression to predict the influence of school policies on smoking behavior at the school and student levels.


School policies that explicitly stated purpose and goals predicted lower prevalence of smoking at the school and individual levels. Policies that prohibited smoking on school grounds at all times predicted lower smoking prevalence at the school level but not at the individual level.


For maximum effectiveness, school smoking policies should clearly state a purpose and goals and should emphasize smoking prohibition. These policies can help reduce smoking prevalence among youths and are part of a comprehensive school approach to tobacco control.

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