Central European Journal of Public Health
The Czech Republic Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) is a school-based survey of students in grades 7-9, conducted in 2002. A two-stage cluster sample design was used to produce representative data for all of the Czech Republic. On a large sample of students (N=4,149) from 7-9th grade it reveals that smoking among children has been continually growing. According to the results of this study, over 34% of the respondents smoke. Results of the study help us to understand social and attitudinal factors that affect adolescent smoking habits. Social factors include particularly the convenient availability of cigarettes and the lack of the legal regulation of the retail of cigarettes: over one half of all smokers under 15 years of age regularly purchase cigarettes in regular retail outlets; 72% of them reported never having been restricted in their purchases because of their age. Advertising and media coverage appears to be another important factor that affects smoking in this age group. Over 80% of children under 15 years of age reported that they have been exposed to the tobacco advertising. The study also allows an interesting analysis of the exposure to the environmental tobacco smoke. Compared to non-smokers, this exposure has been significantly higher in the case of smokers–both in their homes and at other locations (58% vs. 25%, and 90% vs. 57% respectively). The analysis of the data also revealed a strong misconception about the health risks related to passive smoking among smokers. The study provides three key findings for health promotion: (1) it is necessary to exert a continuous pressure on the political representation to strictly enforce the regulations of tobacco distribution and availability to minors; (2) school health education as well as community oriented prevention programs need to explicitly communicate non-smoking as a standard; and (3) it is important to increase the attractiveness and availability of smoking cessation programs.