Factors influencing smoking among secondary school pupils in Ilala Municipality Dar es Salaam March 2007

  • S Green


INTRODUCTION Tobacco epidemic is described as a global crisis, it is one of the two major causes of death and still growing, the other one being HIV/AIDS. The number of smokers worldwide is estimated to be 1.3 billion people, 84% of these smokers live in developing countries. Cigarette smoking, consumption of other tobacco products and passive smoking are the world leading preventable causes responsible for about 5million deaths a year, mostly in poor countries and poor populations. Young adults most of which are in secondary schools are at a higher risk of contracting problems caused by tobacco use; this is due in part to inadequate knowledge about health effects caused by tobacco use and also there is a lot of material in the media that glorify smoking. In Tanzania especially Dar-es-Salaam, there is reported a 1.6% prevalence rate amongst secondary school pupils. OBJECTIVE To determine the socio-environmental factors that may influence smoking amongst secondary school pupils in Ilala municipality in Dar-es-Salaam. METHODOLOGY This was a cross sectional descriptive study that involved 260 respondents selected randomly from five randomly selected secondary schools. A Swahili structured close ended questionnaire were used in data collection and the study was carried in between March and April, 2007. Data coding was done during data entry & quantitative data analysis was done through SPSS Version 12.0, a computer package programme, whereas qualitative data sociological/anthropological methods in data analysis were used. RESULTS The results revealed that 14.2% of the pupils reported to have ever smoked and the range of age to smoke the first cigarette were between 6 to 20 years with a mean age of 17years. About 2% were current smokers. Most of the pupils (88%) declared smoking as not normal for young people, owing to the harmful effects that are contributed by cigarette smoking. About 80% of the pupils mentioned that smoking is addictive. However half of the pupils reported that for one who has started to smoke it is not easy to quit any time one desires to quit. The factors that were found to contribute for their experiment to smoke include peer influence, family influence and the school environment, advertisement and promotion and bad beliefs associated with smoking behaviour. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION Substantial proportions of pupils have tried or have experimented smoking. Peer influence seems to be a major influencing factor for taking up or experimenting smoking. Schools can be a good environment for taking or experimenting smoking. More analytical work on a large scale is needed to determine the extent to which environmental factors influence smoking among pupils. A study is needed to investigate whether cigarette advertising has any impact in the brand choosing among young smokers in a Tanzania society.