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Age of smoking initiation among adolescents in Africa


  • Sreenivas P. Veeranki

    () (University of Texas Medical Branch)

  • Rijo M. John

    (Indian Institute of Technology)

  • Abdallah Ibrahim

    (University of Ghana)

  • Divya Pillendla

    (University of Texas Medical Branch)

  • James F. Thrasher

    (University of South Carolina)

  • Daniel Owusu

    (East Tennessee State University)

  • Ahmed E. O. Ouma

    (WHO Regional Office for Africa)

  • Hadii M. Mamudu

    (University of South Carolina)


Abstract Objectives To estimate prevalence and identify correlates of age of smoking initiation among adolescents in Africa. Methods Data (n = 16,519) were obtained from nationally representative Global Youth Tobacco Surveys in nine West African countries. Study outcome was adolescents’ age of smoking initiation categorized into six groups: ≤7, 8 or 9, 10 or 11, 12 or 13, 14 or 15 and never-smoker. Explanatory variables included sex, parental or peer smoking behavior, exposure to tobacco industry promotions, and knowledge about smoking harm. Weighted multinomial logit models were conducted to determine correlates associated with adolescents’ age of smoking initiation. Results Age of smoking initiation was as early as ≤7 years; prevalence estimates ranged from 0.7 % in Ghana at 10 or 11 years age to 9.6 % in Cote d’Ivoire at 12 or 13 years age. Males, exposures to parental or peer smoking, and industry promotions were identified as significant correlates. Conclusions West African policymakers should adopt a preventive approach consistent with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to prevent an adolescent from initiating smoking and developing into future regular smokers.

Suggested Citation

  • Sreenivas P. Veeranki & Rijo M. John & Abdallah Ibrahim & Divya Pillendla & James F. Thrasher & Daniel Owusu & Ahmed E. O. Ouma & Hadii M. Mamudu, 2017. "Age of smoking initiation among adolescents in Africa," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 62(1), pages 63-72, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ijphth:v:62:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s00038-016-0888-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s00038-016-0888-7

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