Cigarette smoking and Khat chewing among college students in North West Ethiopia

  • Yigzaw Kebede


Background: Although the percentage of the population that smokes has declined in the United States and some other countries, it is increasing in less developed countries. In Ethiopia khat (Catha edulis) is commonly used for social and religious purposes.
Objective: To assess the prevalence and risk factors of cigarette smoking and khat chewing among college students
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in January 2001 in the four colleges found in North West Ethiopia. Students in each year of study were selected by systematic sampling technique. Self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection.
Results: The study revealed 13.1 % life time prevalence rate of cigarette smoking and 26.7 % life time prevalence rate of khat chewing. The current prevalence of cigarette smoking was found to be 8.1 % and that of khat chewing 17.5 %. Forty six (31.7 %) of the life time smokers and 134 (45.6 %) of the life time chewers started smoking and chewing while they were senior secondary school students. Lung diseases including lung cancer were mentioned as health risk of cigarette smoking by 904 students.
Conclusion: The prevalence of cigarette smoking seemed to decrease among university students but the decrease in the prevalence of khat chewing is not remarkable. Students knew the commonest health risks associated with cigarette smoking. Teachers in the high schools and colleges, parents, mass media and other concerned people should teach students about the health and social problems associated with cigarette smoking and khat chewing.

[Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2002;16(1):9-17]

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eISSN: 1021-6790