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Tobacco use among youth: a cross country comparison


Objective: The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) is a worldwide collaborative surveillance initiative that includes governments and non-governmental organisations under the leadership of the World Health Organization/Tobacco Free Initiative (WHO/TFI) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Office on Smoking and Health (CDC/OSH). The GYTS was developed to enhance the capacity of countries to design, implement, and evaluate tobacco control and prevention programmes.

Methods: The GYTS employs a standard methodology where self administered questionnaires, consisting of a set of core questions, are completed by a representative school based sample of students primarily between the ages of 13–15 years.

Results: Data are presented from 75 sites in 43 countries and the Gaza Strip/West Bank region. Current use of any tobacco product ranges from 62.8% to 3.3%, with high rates of oral tobacco use in certain regions. Current cigarette smoking ranges from 39.6% to less than 1%, with nearly 25% of students who smoke, having smoked their first cigarette before the age of 10 years. The majority of current smokers want to stop smoking and have already tried to quit, although very few students who currently smoke have ever attended a cessation programme. Exposure to advertising is high (75% of students had seen pro-tobacco ads), and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is very high in all countries. Only about half of the students reported that they had been taught in school about the dangers of smoking during the year preceding the survey.

Conclusions: Global youth tobacco use is already widespread throughout the world, but there is great variation among nations. Valid and reliable data on the extent of youth tobacco use, and correlates of use, are essential to plan and evaluate tobacco use prevention programmes. The GYTS has proven the feasibility of an inexpensive, standardised, worldwide surveillance system for youth tobacco use. The GYTS will be expanded to the majority of countries in the next few years, and can serve as a baseline for monitoring and evaluating global and national tobacco control efforts.

  • Global Youth Tobacco Survey
  • cross country comparison
  • CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • ETS, environmental tobacco smoke
  • GYTS, Global Youth Tobacco Survey
  • HBSC, Health Behavior in School-aged Children
  • OSH, Office on Smoking and Health
  • TFI, Tobacco Free Initiative
  • WHO, World Health Organization

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