Smoking behaviour, wrong beliefs and smoking risks perception in Portuguese adolescents
AbstractBackground: Smoking is the main avoidable cause of morbidity and mortality. The great majority of smokers started during their adolescence. Aims of this study were to get accurate information on the process of smoking behaviour acquisition and on smoking beliefs and smoking risk perception, of Portuguese adolescents. Methods: 3847 students of 3rd cycle (n=2206) and secondary (n=1641) school grades participated in this study. The average age was 15.3 years (SD=1.6) and 58% were girls. The sample was gathered in 31 schools randomly selected in the five main administrative regions of Continental Portugal. Findings: In the overall sample 10.6% of participants smoked regularly, 61.2% were never smokers and 3.2% ex-smokers. About 10% of participants had strong beliefs pro-smoking (e.g., totally disagreed with the statement “smoking damages my health”) and a significant part expressed lack of information on the effects of smoking (e.g., 38% answered “do not know” to the question “smoking helps to get less weight”). The majority believes that more than 60% of Portuguese population smokes. Among the smokers, only 16% declare that never had tried to reduce or quit smoking and only 21% declare that wanted to keep smoking. Discussion: A significant part of Portuguese adolescent’s smoke. Wrong beliefs and lack of information were identified. Most of the smokers were not satisfied and wanted to quit. These results have implications on smoking prevention: beliefs on smoking effects and information on smoking risks should still be addressed. Cessation encouragement and support must be provided earlier in the smoking acquisition process.
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