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Am J Prev Med. 1998 Jul;15(1):17-24.

Factors associated with smoking among children and adolescents in Connecticut.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Massachusetts 02118, USA.



The age of smoking initiation has dropped over the past four decades. Since behaviors and attitudes adopted in late childhood or early adolescence predict future smoking, it is important to understand the smoking and other risk-taking behaviors and attitudes of children aged 12 and younger. The goal of the analyses presented here was to describe behavioral and attitudinal factors associated with smoking among elementary school (grades 4-6), middle school (grade 7-8), and high school (grades 9-12) students in Connecticut.


We have used data from 8 years (1988-1996) of an anonymous, self-administered health risk appraisal survey given to children and adolescents in self-selected public and private schools. We compared the proportion of smokers and nonsmokers who reported various behaviors and attitudes and compared them with the chi-square test.


Fifteen percent (n = 4,884) of the total population (n = 31, 861) were current smokers. At all grade levels, current smokers were more likely than nonsmokers to engage in risk-taking behaviors, and to report more stress and depression. Indicators of risk-taking and stress were also associated with the intent to smoke among children in grades 4-6.


Smoking occurs within the context of other risk-taking behavior and psychological distress, among both children and older adolescents. Our data provide support for the idea of early identification and targeting of children at high risk of smoking in elementary school, possibly as early as grade four.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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