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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health

Building capacity for a tobacco-free world

July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA

Thursday, July 13, 2006 - 12:00 PM

Risk Factors for Smoking among Young, Urban Women in Malaysia

Yoke Lim Khor, PhD1, Kin Foong, PhD1, Farizah Hairi, MPH2, Zarihah Md. Zain, MD3, Rahmat Awang, Pharm., D1, Maizurah Omar, PhD1, and Yen Lian Tan, M.A1. (1) National Poison Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, Penang, 11800, Malaysia, (2) Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 50603, Malaysia, (3) Cancer and Tobacco Control Unit, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health, Level 3, Block A, Health Offices Complex, Jalan Cenderasari, Kuala Lumpur, 50590, Malaysia

Objective: This paper presents the outcome of a study to increase understanding of smoking behavior among young urban women in Malaysia. In order to contribute to policy formulation the study will identify influencing factors on the uptake, maintenance and cessation of smoking among young women.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of college students in Kuala Lumpur was conducted using self administered questionnaire. Study population were 1030 female students aged between 18-25 years.

Results: Based on the definition of smoking in the last 30 days, there are 4.3% current smokers. Most female smokers are light smokers, smoking less than 10 cigarettes per day. Most respondents have high knowledge of smoking effects.

The study found several factors that contribute to smoking experimentation. Receiving free cigarette is a significant predictor. Having mother who smokes is also a strong risk factor for smoking initiation. Female students whose mother smokes are 25 times more likely to be current smoker.

Another significant predictor is peer smoking. Having close friends who smoke has a significant influence on ever and current smoking. The study found that females who have close friends who smoke is 7.53 times more likely to smoke.

Preventive interventions should focus on preventive skills to resist environmental influences from peers and tobacco industry. Parents should be motivated to be better role model to their children by not smoking. Comprehensive enforcement is needed to prevent industry promotional tactics including the distribution of free cigarettes.