Smoking habits of physicians in Enugu, Nigeria

  • TA Okeke Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, P.M.B. 01129, Enugu
Keywords: Tobacco smoking, Physicians, Enugu


Background: Physicians are highly respected in their communities. They play a crucial role in issues related to health and people turn to them for advice and consultation. This study was therefore conducted to determine the prevalence of smoking among physicians in Enugu, Nigeria, a group of health professionals who should act as role models.
Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was carried out between June and July 2004 at a tertiary health facility located in Enugu, the capital of Enugu state in south-east Nigeria. Information was obtained with the aid of a self-administered structured questionnaire.
Results: Of the 450 physicians contacted, 377 completed the questionnaire, giving a response rate of 83.8%. The mean age of the respondents was 30.9 years and majority 319(84.6%) were males. The physicians comprised of about 8 % current smokers, 13.3% ex-smokers and 78.8% who had never smoked. Majority (60%) of smokers began smoking before the age of 20 and reasons for starting included curiosity (55%), peer pressure (35%), stress of medical school (22.5%) and having a family member who smoked (10%). All respondents agreed that smoking is hazardous to health and majority recognized the association between smoking and various diseases. Non -smokers were more likely than smokers to counsel their patients on the dangers of smoking and to consider themselves as role models. This difference was found to be statistically significant (p<0.05). Majority (60.5%) would recommend a ban on smoking in public places, 50.7% an increase in price of cigarettes and 31.3% prohibition of advertisement of cigarettes.
Conclusion: Because of their important role as health educators, physicians should not smoke. It is highly recommended that smoking cessation training be implemented in medical schools and also be made available to practicing Nigerian physicians through continuing medical education. A national policy on tobacco control should also be developed and strictly enforced.
KEY WORDS: Tobacco smoking; Physicians; Enugu
Journal of Community Medicine & Primary Health Care Vol.16(2) 2004: 34-38

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