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Prevalence and determinants of tobacco use among young people in the Gambia

Jallow, Isatou K.; Britton, John; Langley, Tessa

Prevalence and determinants of tobacco use among young people in the Gambia Thumbnail


Isatou K. Jallow

John Britton


Introduction: Tobacco consumption, and consequent morbidity and mortality, are expected to grow most markedly over coming decades in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Preventing tobacco experimentation and uptake among young people in LMICs is therefore vital. However, data on smoking in these countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, remain sparse.

Method: We used two-stage cluster random sampling to select students in upper and senior secondary schools throughout The Gambia, and a self-administered questionnaire to collect data on their tobacco use, risk factors, and demographic details.

Results: Of 10,392 eligible students, 10,289 (99%; 55% girls and 44% boys, age 12-20 years) participated. The prevalence of ever smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes was 16.7% (25.7% boys and 9.4% girls) and current (past 30 days) smoking 4.5% (7.9% boys and 1.5% girls). Smoking was more common among students attending private schools (OR1.69, 95% CI 1.29-2.22), of Christian) or other faiths compared to Muslims, living with parents (OR1.39, 95% CI 1.06-1.81), who had smoking allowed in their homes (OR1.67, 95% CI 1.30-2.13), with family members who smoked or had one or more friends who smoked. Most (55.6%) smokers want to stop, but only 22% received any stop smoking support. Ever smoking of shisha, at 8.1%, was unexpectedly high, and relatively prevalent among girls (11.4% of boys and 5.4% of girls).

Conclusions: Tobacco use is common among young people in the Gambia. Shisha smoking is also common in this population, and in relative terms especially among girls. Further work is required to determine whether this is a problem local to The Gambia, or reflects a wider pattern of tobacco use in sub-Saharan Africa.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 1, 2017
Publication Date Dec 28, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 3, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 28, 2017
Journal BMJ Global Health
Electronic ISSN 2059-7908
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 4
Article Number e000482
Keywords Smoking; Tobacco use; Shisha; Young people; Gambia
Public URL
Publisher URL


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