Objectives: To measure the prevalence of cigarette smoking among male secondary school children and assess their family influence especially that of their fathers' smoking habits on their current smoking habits.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was carried out in Kota Bharu, Kelantan in April 1997 where 460 male form four students, aged 15-16 years were randomly selected from six secondary schools. Data on smoking habits, sociodemographic profile and family characteristics particularly parents and siblings' smoking habits, perceived parental supervision and communication were collected through self-administered questionnaires.
Results: The prevalence of cigarette smoking among male secondary school children was 33.2%. Crude analysis shows family factors, fathers' and siblings' smoking habits, and lack of parental supervision were significantly associated with the students' current smoking habit. Among students who smoked compared to non-smokers, father's smoking habit gives a crude Odds Ratio = 1.8, 95% C.I. 1.08 - 3.16. Further analysis shows that the effect of their father's smoking habit on the student's current smoking habit is still significant after controlling for other familial and non-familial factors including parental supervision, academic performance, reported influence of cigarette advertisement, having friends who smoked and the student's poor knowledge of the ill-effects of smoking and other factors (Odds Ratio = 1.9, 95% C.I 1.05 - 3.32). In conclusion, family factors especially the father's smoking habit is an important factor that influences a student's current smoking habit and the presence of negative role models within the home need to be seriously considered in any cigarette smoking prevention programs among secondary school adolescents.