Background: The use of tobacco products is the major cause of chronic diseases morbidity and mortality. Most smokers start the smoking habits from childhood and adolescent stages.
Method: This was a cross-sectional study. A total of 1654 subjects (854 boys and 800 girls), aged 11 to 18 years, who were part of the Ellisras Longitudinal Study completed the questionnaire. Association between tobacco products use and habits, attitudes and beliefs were explored in this study. Logistic regression was used to estimate the association.
Results: The prevalence of tobacco product use increases with increasing (4.9 to 17.1%) age among boys whereas girls do not smoke cigarette but only considerable number (1.0 to 4.1%) use home made tobacco products (pipe and snuff) among the Ellisras rural children. Parents and grand parents play a significant (about 50%) role in influencing smoking behaviour among the Ellisras rural children. Seeing actors smoking on TV shows was positively associated (p < 0.05) with smoking (OR = 2.3 95%CI (1.3-4.1 and OR = 2.3 95%CI 1.3-4.1 after adjusting for age and gender). However, women who smoke cigarette were significantly (p < 0.001) associated with success and success and wealth (OR = 2.8, 95% CI 1.5-5.2) even after adjusting for age and gender (OR = 2.9 95% CI 1.5-5.4).
Conclusion: The usage of tobacco products was high among older boys. Girls did not smoke cigarette. This tobacco use behaviour mirrors the cultural norms and adult behaviour. The association of this tobacco used products with biological parameters will shed more light on the health of these children over time.