Objectives: Literature on the influence of smoking prevalence at school-level on the smoking initiation among elementary school children is scarce. The aim of the current study was to explore this in school clusters stratified according to student's perceived smoking prevalence in the school while adjusting for social impact of individual students.
Method: The data was obtained from a survey administered to 13 elementary schools in Taoyuan County, a final sample of 1585 3rd and 4th grade students. Multi-level logistic regression analysis (MLRA) was used to examine the influence variable at school-level as well as individual socio-environment level had on smoking status of elementary schools students.
Results: Attending a school where the students reported a perception of high smoking prevalence had a greater effect on smoking behavior in boys than girls when compared with students attending a lower smoking prevalence school, after adjustment for student-level characteristics.
Conclusions: Our study confirmed that a broader school environment with a high student perception of smoking prevalence is associated with children's smoking behavior in boys. The findings further indicate the need for enforcement of anti-smoking policies within schools with higher smoking rates to reduce visibility of smoking among school children.