Background: A national survey in Japan reported that the prevalence of smoking among high school students has sharply decreased in recent years. However, the survey only considered students who attended regular high schools (RHSs), and Japan offers part-time high schools (PHSs) that are often attended by academically and socioeconomically disadvantaged youth.
Purpose: Therefore, we examined the smoking prevalence and smoking-related factors among PHS students.
Method: A self-administered questionnaire-based survey was conducted at six PHSs. The subjects included 540 enrolled students aged 15 to 18 years. The questionnaire included items on smoking status, smokers in the family, frequency of convenience store use, lifestyle behaviors, and health awareness. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors that were significantly associated with smoking.
Results: A total of 45.6 % of students had smoking experience, and 29.3 % were smokers. For males and females, the smoking prevalence was about 3 and 7-12 times higher, respectively, than that reported in the national survey. The factors found to be significantly associated with smoking included having a smoker in the family, experience with drinking alcohol, and using convenience store daily (odds ratio [OR] = 12.5) or sometimes (OR = 3.63). There was a significant dose-response relationship between smoking and convenience store use.
Conclusion: The smoking prevalence among PHS students was remarkably higher than that among RHS students. These findings suggest that marginalized and disadvantaged youth should be targeted for tobacco control, and intervention is needed to protect youth from tobacco sales and advertising at convenience stores.