Home > Comparison of the health and wellbeing of smoking and non-smoking school-aged children in Ireland.

Evans, David S and O'Farrell, Anne and Sheridan, Aishling and Kavanagh, Paul (2019) Comparison of the health and wellbeing of smoking and non-smoking school-aged children in Ireland. Child: Care, Health and Development, 45, (5), pp. 694-701.

BACKGROUND: Although most young people are aware of the long term consequences of smoking, it has been shown that young smokers expect to give up before any health damage occurs. Little is known in an Irish context about the association between smoking and young people's current health. This could be helpful to help reduce smoking initiation and encouraging quitting. The study aimed to determine the association between smoking and health and wellbeing indicators among Irish school-aged children.

METHODS: The 2014 Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study was analysed which comprised a random stratified sample of 9623 schoolchildren (aged 10-18). The prevalence of eight self-reported health complaints and two subjective wellbeing measures were compared across strata classified by self-reported smoking status using Pearson's chi square and independent t tests. Logistic and ordinal regression were used to control for age, gender, and social class.

RESULTS: A significantly larger proportion of smokers (p<0.001) reported fair to poor health (32% versus 11% for non-smokers), lower mean life satisfaction scores (6.2 compared to 7.5), and each of eight health complaints at least once a week (range = 25-50% compared to 15-21%). These patterns remained significant after adjusting for differences in age, gender and social class profile (p<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The study demonstrates the potential of developing initiatives which target smoking in adolescence as opposed to the longer term health effects of smoking which are well known. The findings can be utilised to counteract positive perceptions of smoking among schoolchildren. This, combined with providing supports to help children quit may help achieve government targets to reduce smoking prevalence.

Item Type
Publication Type
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Screening / Assessment
Page Range
pp. 694-701
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