Background. No study to date in Syria has documented the smoking and quitting characteristics in a representative sample of university students, and this study aims to fill this void. Design. In 2003, a cross-sectional survey was carried out among students at Aleppo University using an interviewer- administered questionnaire. Overall, 587 students participated in the study (278 males, 309 females; mean age, 21.8 ± 2.1 years; response rate, 98.8%). Experiences and attitudes related to smoking and quitting were assessed for two popular forms of tobacco use in Syria-cigarettes and narghile (waterpipe). Results. Current cigarette smoking was reported by 30.9% of male and 7.4% of female students and daily smoking by 24.8% of male and 5.2% of female students. Narghile smoking was seen among 25.5% of men and 4.9% of women, mostly on an occasional basis. More than half of current smokers (56%) believed they could quit cigarettes, 75.2% were interested in quitting, and 78% of those had made a quit attempt in the past year. Important correlates of cigarette smoking among students were being older, male, and smoking narghile, while being older and from a poorer family were associated with increased interest in quitting. Interestingly, peers' smoking was associated with current smoking among students, but inversely with their willingness to quit. Conclusions. Cigarette smoking is mainly a problem of male students, whose narghile smoking is likely to be dramatically increasing as well, sometimes practiced as a substitute for cigarettes. The findings that most smokers in this sample are interested in quitting smoking and have tried unsuccessfully to do so indicate that cessation support for youths in this country is urgently needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health