Objective: To investigate the prevalence of smoking among pre-teenagers (11 and 12 years of age) and to identify risk factors for smoking.
Method: A cross-sectional study was carried out with 2,386 schoolchildren from 19 schools in Argentina. A structured, self-completed and anonymous questionnaire was employed.
Results: The prevalence of smoking was 15.1%, ranging from 7.9% in the 7th grade to 23.9% in the 9th grade. The mean age at the start of smoking was 11.7 years. Peer and family pressure were statistically significant risk factors for initiating the habit.
Conclusions: These findings support the recommendation to begin smoking prevention programs before early adolescence.