School smoking policy characteristics and individual perceptions of the school tobacco context: are they linked to students' smoking status?

J Youth Adolesc. 2009 Nov;38(10):1374-87. doi: 10.1007/s10964-009-9422-z. Epub 2009 Jun 7.


The purpose of this study was to explore individual- and school-level policy characteristics on student smoking behavior using an ecological perspective. Participants were 24,213 (51% female) Grade 10-11 students from 81 schools in five Canadian provinces. Data were collected using student self-report surveys, written policies collected from schools, interviews with school administrators, and school property observations to assess multiple dimensions of the school tobacco policy. The multi-level modeling results revealed that the school a student attended was associated with his/her smoking behavior. Individual-level variables that were associated with student smoking included lower school connectedness, a greater number of family and friends who smoked, higher perceptions of student smoking prevalence, lower perceptions of student smoking frequency, and stronger perceptions of the school tobacco context. School-level variables associated with student smoking included weaker policy intention indicating prohibition and assistance to overcome tobacco addiction, weaker policy implementation involving strategies for enforcement, and a higher number of students smoking on school property. These findings suggest that the school environment is important to tobacco control strategies, and that various policy dimensions have unique relationships to student smoking. School tobacco policies should be part of a comprehensive approach to adolescent tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organizational Policy*
  • Perception
  • Schools
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Environment
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*