Methods: We conducted a survey of 11,095 urban and rural high school and college-attending women, aged 14-24 years, in six Chinese provinces. We calculated ever-smoking (ES), current smoking (CS), established smoking (ESTS), and intention to smoke (IS) frequencies. Bivariate analyses were conducted to identify possible correlates of smoking, and those found to be significant at the p=0.1 level were included in a multivariate logistical regression model to obtain adjusted odds ratios (OR) for correlates of ever-smoking (ES).
Results: ES prevalence was 20.1%, with urban female students (UFS) at 22.0% and rural female students (RFS) at 19.0% (p<0.01). ESTS prevalence was higher among UFS than RFS (2.4% vs 0.9%, p<0.01). Similarly, CS prevalence was higher among UFS than RFS(4.2% vs 1.9%, p<0.01). The IS prevalence was higher among UFS than RFS (3.5% vs 1.7%, p<0.01). The majority were aware that smoking was harmful to health, but were less aware of specific diseases associated with smoking. ES was associated with awareness of cigarettes made for women (OR, 1.66, 95% CL 1.49-1.86) and thinking that they were less harmful than other cigarettes (OR 1.54, 95% CL 1.33-1.79). The strongest correlate of ES was low refusal self-efficacy (OR 6.35, 95% CL 5.32-7.57).
Conclusions: This is the first report that having heard of women’s cigarettes is a correlate of smoking among young Chinese women. ES among young Chinese women has increased in the last decade, and thus, specific prevention strategies need to be developed to prevent the tobacco epidemic from spreading among this vulnerable population.
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