Introduction: In addition to individual-level characteristics, the social and physical environment may influence the initiation of cigarette smoking in adolescents. The objective of this paper is to describe the association between smoking intolerance in schools, and in restaurants and corner stores located near schools, and initiation of cigarette smoking among adolescents.
Methods: Data on cigarette smoking were collected in self-report questionnaires every 3 months from 1999 to 2005 in a sample of 1,293 Grade 7 students in 10 secondary schools in Montreal, Canada. Baseline never-smokers (n = 868) were retained for analysis. School administrators completed questionnaires on tobacco control policies and activities within schools. Data on access to tobacco products and smoking restrictions in restaurants and corner stores located in school neighborhoods were collected through direct observation. Schools, restaurants, and corner stores were classified as smoking tolerant or intolerant. Time to initiation of cigarette smoking was modeled as a function of smoking intolerance in schools, restaurants, and corner stores in survival analyses (Cox proportional hazards modeling).
Results: Students in smoking-intolerant schools were less likely to initiate smoking than students in smoking-tolerant schools (hazard ratio [HR; 95% CI] = 0.83 [0.68, 1.01]). Students attending schools located in neighborhoods with smoking-intolerant restaurants were less likely to initiate smoking (HR [95% CI] = 0.85 [0.68, 1.07]). There was no association between corner store smoking intolerance and initiation.
Conclusions: Smoking intolerance in schools and restaurants may protect against initiation of cigarette smoking and could be useful targets for more intense tobacco control efforts.