Objectives: To determine the prevalence and correlates for current cigarette smoking.
Design: Secondary analysis of the East Timor-Leste Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2006.
Setting: Public and private schools registered with the Ministry of Education.
Participants: A two-stage cluster sample of 1790 students in Grades 7 to 9. Schools were selected with probability proportional to enrolment size, and classes were randomly selected in each school. All students in selected classes were eligible to participate in the survey. The school and student response rates were 96.0% and 84.5%, respectively.
Main outcome measure: Prevalence of current cigarette smoking.
Results: Out of 1790 adolescents, 52.1% were of ages less than 15 years, 51.8% were males, 42.8% reported having some pocket money in a month, and 72.7% had at least a parent who was a smoker. Prevalence of current cigarette smoking was 40.3%. Current smokers also reported having bought cigarettes from peddlers (32.4%), someone bought for them (16.7%), got from someone older (13.7%), borrowed (13.3%), and stole (3.4%). Males were more likely to be smokers than females (59.0% versus 19.3%). Factors positively associated with current smoking were: parental smoking; closest friend smoking; amount of pocket money; and exposure to anti-tobacco messages.
Conclusions: East Timor has one of the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking among adolescents. The fact that exposure to anti-tobacco messages was associated with being a smoker may be evidence suggesting that anti-tobacco messages, especially from tobacco-related industry, may have unintended consequences.