Most UAE students start smoking before 14

February 3rd, 2011 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Feb 3 (IANS) More than 80 percent of students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) start smoking when they are as young as 14 years, a survey has found.Tobacco use among teenagers remains a concern for health authorities as new data shows a quantum leap in the number of student smokers in the past five years, Khaleej Times reported citing a global survey.

The study was conducted last year by the health ministry’s Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS) in coordination with US Centres for Diseases Control (CDC) and the World Health Organisation.

The survey of 2,581 people showed that 82.1 percent of students (both male and female) in the country have tried their first cigarette before the age of 14 as compared to 39 percent (surveyed in 2005) who tried their first cigarette at the age of 13 or less.

Male students were more likely to start smoking at an early age at 83.7 percent (39.2 percent in 2005) as compared to female students whose numbers stood at 79.4 percent, still a significant increase from the earlier 36.7 percent.

The study also measured dietary behaviour, hygiene, mental health, physical activity, protective factors, violence and unintentional injury of students in grades 8, 9, and 10.

A similar survey conducted by the Dubai Health Authority in private schools showed that 71 percent of the students were cigarette smokers.

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