This study examined the prevalence and correlates of smoking initiation among adolescents. We have used data from adolescents (n=5,392) ages 10–18 who participated in the 2003 Tobacco Survey, a representative sample of adolescents in Northwest Ohio. A self-report of cigarette smoking was obtained using a questionnaire administered in classrooms. Data were analyzed using weighted chi-square and multiple logistic regressions in SAS that accounted for the survey design. The prevalence rates for adolescents that ever tried smoking were 7.4% in elementary (grades 4–5); 17.7% in middle (grades 6–8), and 41.4% in high (grades 9–12) schools, respectively. The highest prevalence rate was among Hispanics. Having a close friend that smoked and a smoker at home correlated significantly with both initiation of smoking and smoking at an earlier age. Smoking was correlated with low academic achievement among adolescents in all grades. Students who reported smoking by parents or siblings were significantly more likely to start smoking at an earlier age, compared to other students living in a non-smoking home environment. Smoking prevention program should include components focused on adolescents’ home environment and should start as early as the 4th grade
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