School and Community Predictors of Smoking: A Longitudinal Study of Canadian High Schools
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OBJECTIVES: We identified the most effective mix of school-based policies, programs, and regional environments associated with low school smoking rates in a cohort of Canadian high schools over time. METHODS: We collected a comprehensive set of student, school, and community data from a national cohort of 51 high schools in 2004 and 2007. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to predict school and community characteristics associated with school smoking prevalence. RESULTS: Between 2004 and 2007, smoking prevalence decreased from 13.3% to 10.7% in cohort schools. Predictors of lower school smoking prevalence included both school characteristics related to prevention programming and community characteristics, including higher cigarette prices, a greater proportion of immigrants, higher education levels, and lower median household income. CONCLUSIONS: Effective approaches to reduce adolescent smoking will require interventions that focus on multiple factors. In particular, prevention programming and high pricing for cigarettes sold near schools may contribute to lower school smoking rates, and these factors are amenable to change. A sustained focus on smoking prevention is needed to maintain low levels of adolescent smoking.
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