Background: This article examines differences and similarities in adolescent tobacco use among Member States of the Health Ministers' Council for the Gulf Cooperation Council (HMC/GCC) using Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) data.
Methods: Nationally representative samples of students in grades associated with ages 13-15 in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Schools were selected proportional to enrollment size, classes were randomly selected within participating schools, and all students in selected classes were eligible to participate.
Results: GYTS results confirmed that boys are significantly more likely than girls to smoke cigarettes or use shisha (water pipe). Students had higher rates of tobacco use than adults in Bahrain, Oman, and United Arab Emirates. For boys and girls, shisha use was higher than cigarette smoking in almost all countries. Susceptibility to initiate smoking among never smokers was higher than current cigarette smoking in all countries. Exposure to secondhand smoke in public places was greater than 30%, direct protobacco advertising exposure was greater than 70% on billboards and in newspapers, and more than 10% of students were influenced by indirect advertising. Finally, less than half of the students were taught in school about the dangers of tobacco use in the past year.
Conclusions: For boys and girls, high prevalence of cigarette smoking, high prevalence of shisha use, and high susceptibility of never smokers to initiate smoking in the next year are troubling indicators for the future of chronic disease and tobacco-related mortality in the Member States of the HMC/GCC.