Prevalence and correlates of early smoking among elementary schoolchildren in multiethnic, low-income inner-city neighborhoods

Ann Epidemiol. 1998 Jul;8(5):308-18. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(97)00209-3.


Purpose: The prevalence and correlates of early smoking were investigated among schoolchildren in grades 4-6 living in multiethnic, low-income neighborhoods in Montreal.

Methods: As part of the evaluation of a school-based heart health promotion program, baseline data on the prevalence of early smoking were collected from 2285 students aged 9-13 years in 24 inner-city elementary schools during May-June 1993.

Results: Overall, 28.7% of boys and 20.3% of girls had smoked. Girls began trying later than boys, but by age 13 the prevalence of experimental or regular smoking by girls overtook that of boys. Univariately, ever smoking varied considerably by family origin, from 2.1% among Vietnamese girls, to 35.8% among Portuguese boys. In multivariate analysis, age, perceived smoking habits of friends, and smoking by family members, were strong correlates of smoking. Being of Asian family origin was negatively associated with smoking. None of the indicators of social class were significantly associated with ever smoking.

Conclusions: Smoking prevention should begin with children even younger than age 9 in multiethnic, low-income, inner-city neighborhoods. With the exception of a lower prevalence of smoking among Asian children, ethnicity and social class were not strong influences on early smoking behavior in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty*
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Urban Population