Prevalence of tobacco use among young adults in Palestine
Abu Seir, Rania
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Background: Smoking tobacco is a worldwide public health issue. Over the last few decades, smoking patterns have been changing, reflected by increasing rates among young people and females in particular. Aims: This study aimed to determine the prevalence and modalities of smoking and to assess the factors, habits and beliefs that might encourage or discourage smoking among young adults in Palestine. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in the West Bank in 2014 among Palestinians aged 18–25 years old. Subjects were recruited from six Palestinian universities (n=1997). Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire focusing on sociodemographics, knowledge and beliefs towards tobacco smoking, and the reasons that motivate or hinder smokers to quit. Results: The prevalence of tobacco smoking was found to be 47.7%. Males had higher smoking rates, consumption levels, and initiated smoking at younger ages (74.4% started at ≤18 years old). Smoking cigarettes and waterpipe were the most common forms among both sexes. Smokers were also found to consume higher amounts of caffeinated drinks and fast food, showed lower scores towards anti-smoking beliefs, and reported significantly higher prevalence of smoking-related symptoms and diseases, primarily shortness of breath (20.5%) and cough (16.6%). The majority of smokers reported attempting and willingness to quit smoking. Health and financial costs were the strongest factors encouraging quitting while mood changes and lack of self-control were the most reported discouraging factors. Moreover, smoking among family members and peers increased the odds of smoking. Conclusions: Increasing rates of smoking among young Palestinians and a growing popularity of waterpipe use should alert stakeholders to the necessity for the implementation of smoking prevention and awareness policies and programmes.