Gender and Adolescent Attitudes Towards Tobacco Use in 3 Middle Eastern Countries

Hedieh MEHRTASH, National Cancer Institute, United States

1 Center for Global Health, National Cancer Institute, USA
2 Tobacco Control Research Branch, National Cancer Institute, USA

The purpose of this paper is to use data collected in the 2009 and 2010 Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco Global Youth Tobacco Surveys (GYTS) to understand the factors that contribute to youth smoking. In response to the growing burden of cancer, greater understanding of gender and geographic/cultural differences in smoking attitudes and behaviors among the youth will inform cancer prevention programs in these countries.
This study uses GYTS data from Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco in 2009 and 2010. GYTS is a nationally representative survey of 13-15-year-old students using a consistent and standard protocol. Current smoking status is defined as using any tobacco product, such cigarette smoking or hookah use, on at least one day during the 30 days preceding the survey. Associations were computed using SAS software.
Significant differences were observed between boys and girls in all three countries in attitudes and beliefs about tobacco use. While differences between boys and girls were seen in all three countries, the differences were greater in Egypt and Jordan compared with Morocco. Girls were generally more likely than boys to have negative opinions about tobacco use. For example, girls (34.6%) were more likely than boys (25.7%) to say that smoking makes girls and boys look less attractive. Girls (48.5%) were also more likely than boys (35.6%) to believe that exposure to cigarette is harmful. However, there were also differences by country.  In Jordan, girls (54.4%) were more likely to believe that exposure to cigarette smoke is harmful compared with girls in Morocco (45.0%) and Egypt (49.1%).  
By understanding the attitudes, knowledge and risk behaviors in youth smoking, Ministries of Health and relevant organizations can better design, implement, and evaluate tobacco control and cancer prevention programs in these countries, especially among adolescents.