Objectives: As part of efforts to develop a smoking control strategy for Japanese adolescents, the results of two nationwide surveys on adolescent smoking behaviour were compared.
Design: Descriptive study on smoking behaviour among high school students was conducted. Self-reporting anonymous questionnaires were administered to 115 814 students in 1996 and 106 297 in 2000 through randomly sampled junior and senior high schools throughout Japan.
Main outcome measures: Smoking prevalence, proportion of smokers by usual sources of cigarettes, national estimated cigarettes consumed by minors, share of cigarette brands smoked by high school students.
Results: The experiment rate among junior high school boys decreased in 2000 compared with that in 1996, whereas current and daily smoking rates did not. Although prevalence among Japanese girls was much lower than that among boys, prevalence among girls increased in 2000. The main source of cigarettes among high school smokers was vending machines. The proportion of smokers who usually purchased cigarettes from vending machines increased in 2000, in spite of the 1998 introduction of restrictions on night-time operations. Japanese adolescents were more likely than adults to smoke American cigarette brands, and the adolescent market share of American brands has increased rapidly, especially for menthol brands.
Conclusions: This survey revealed the seriousness of the problem of smoking behaviour among Japanese high school students, and suggested that this behaviour may be influenced by social environmental factors, including the marketing strategies of the tobacco industry. Action should be taken to reduce the prevalence and impact of pro-tobacco marketing messages and to abolish cigarette vending machines.
- adolescent behaviour
- brand preference
- cigarette smoking
- smoking behaviour
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Competing interests: none declared