Purpose: The purposes of this study were (a) to identify smoking behavior by following a cohort representative of the population of 4th grade elementary schoolers in South Korea over a four-year period (2004-2007), and (b) to explore predictors of smoking initiation among non-smokers in Wave 1.
Methods: Secondary data, the Korea Youth Panel Study, was analyzed in this study. First, frequencies or percentages were calculated to identify smoking behavior (i.e., smoking initiation, smoking intensity, and smoking duration). Second, binary logistic regression analysis was performed to examine significant factors related to smoking initiation.
Results: Smoking initiation and daily smoking were more pronounced when the participants entered middle school. In bivariate analysis, statistically significant predictors of smoking initiation were loneliness at school, self-control, delinquent behavior, depressive symptoms, and stress. However, after controlling for other factors, only a high level of risk-taking tendency and a greater number of delinquent behaviors remained statistically significant.
Conclusion: Based on greater involvement in smoking among first-year middle schoolers, smoking prevention strategies should be provided to elementary schoolers rather than middle schoolers. A risk-taking tendency and delinquent behaviors should be considered as proxy measures to detect the high-risk group for smoking initiation.