Objective: To estimate the prevalence of tobacco smoking, and understand the attitude, practice, and knowledge among medical students.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from September 2009 to May 2010. An anonymous, self-administered, Global Adult Tobacco Survey based questionnaire was completed by the students attending the main Medical College of King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Results: Of the 643 students in the study, 90 students (14%) indicated that they smoked tobacco at the time of the study. The prevalence of smoking was 24.8% among males, and 9.1% among females. Smoking was more common in males (p=0.003), but there were more ex-smokers among females (p=0.042). The friends and parents were considered the primary influence for initiating smoking habit, followed by the media. Ninety percent thought that doctors should set a good example by not smoking. Most of the study population indicated that smoking is related to serious illnesses; however, non-smokers were better aware of such illnesses than smokers. Although most thought that smoking tobacco is harmful, approximately 9.5% believe that smoking a water pipe is not.
Conclusion: Despite the good knowledge on the hazards of tobacco consumption, 24.8% male, and 9.1% female medical students in Jeddah continue to smoke. The policymakers should address the factors contributing to the initiation, continuation, and spread of this devastating habit.