Age of smoking initiation among adolescents in Africa

Sreenivas P. Veeranki, Rijo M. John, Abdallah Ibrahim, Divya Pillendla, James F. Thrasher, Daniel Owusu, Ahmed E.O. Ouma, Hadii M. Mamudu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives: To estimate prevalence and identify correlates of age of smoking initiation among adolescents in Africa. Methods: Data (n = 16,519) were obtained from nationally representative Global Youth Tobacco Surveys in nine West African countries. Study outcome was adolescents’ age of smoking initiation categorized into six groups: ≤7, 8 or 9, 10 or 11, 12 or 13, 14 or 15 and never-smoker. Explanatory variables included sex, parental or peer smoking behavior, exposure to tobacco industry promotions, and knowledge about smoking harm. Weighted multinomial logit models were conducted to determine correlates associated with adolescents’ age of smoking initiation. Results: Age of smoking initiation was as early as ≤7 years; prevalence estimates ranged from 0.7 % in Ghana at 10 or 11 years age to 9.6 % in Cote d’Ivoire at 12 or 13 years age. Males, exposures to parental or peer smoking, and industry promotions were identified as significant correlates. Conclusions: West African policymakers should adopt a preventive approach consistent with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to prevent an adolescent from initiating smoking and developing into future regular smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Africa
  • Age of smoking initiation
  • Global Youth Tobacco Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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