A new study, co-written by faculty and a former doctoral student at
the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health estimated the susceptibility to smoking among never-smoking youth on a global-scale and found that one in eight never-smoking youth worldwide is susceptible to smoking. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and worldwide. If current trends continue, it is forecast that annual tobacco-related mortality worldwide will surpass eight million deaths by 2030. Studies have been conducted to understand cigarette smoking behavior and its deleterious health effects; however, limited research has been conducted on early phases of cigarette smoking behavior, especially in low- and middle-income countries. “Our goal was to estimate the risk of smoking initiation among never-smoking youth worldwide, and the findings are quite staggering,” says Dr. Hadii Mamudu, co-author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of health services management and policy. The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health
in September 2013.
Researchers used the Global Youth Tobacco Survey data spanning 168 countries and the six World Health Organization (WHO) regions. The study sample included 356,414 never-smoking school-going adolescents aged 13-15 years representing a total of approximately 70 million youth worldwide. Of the 12.5 percent (8.8 million) never-smoking youth worldwide who were found at-risk for smoking, 7.2 percent were boys and 5.3 percent were girls. Susceptibility to smoking among youth varied across the WHO regions with least and highest rates in the Southeast Asia and the European regions, respectively. Regardless of gender, exposure to parental or peer smoking, secondhand smoke, and tobacco industry promotion were associated with increased smoking susceptibility. In contrast, support for smoke-free policies and school antismoking education was associated with decreased susceptibility among females. Interestingly, adolescents who had been exposed to anti-smoking messages were found to be at increased susceptibility to smoking.
“These findings support early and sustained tobacco intervention initiatives to protect never-smoking youth from being vulnerable to smoking and transforming into future regular smokers,” says Dr. Mamudu. The authors called on policy makers and public health professionals to develop a comprehensive approach to curbing youth tobacco use, including parental and peer education, smoke-free policies, ban on tobacco advertising and promotions, and antismoking education in schools.
Dr. Hadii Mamudu]