BACKGROUND--There have been numerous studies on smoking habits among young adults in developed countries. Similar data from developing countries are scanty. METHODS--A survey of medical students from one of the medical colleges in Pakistan assessed their smoking habits and attitudes towards smoking. In June 1993 a coded survey questionnaire was sent to each medical student at The Aga Khan Medical University in Karachi requesting data on their smoking habits, their attitudes towards smoking in various areas of the hospital, and their views about passive smoking and tobacco publicity. RESULTS--Of 324 medical students, 89% responded of whom 11% were current smokers. The incidence of smoking was greater among male students than females (17% versus 4%). The average age of initiation of smoking was 17 years and the major influence was friends. There was an increased awareness of harmful effects of smoking among medical students. Almost all felt that passive smoking was injurious to health. CONCLUSION--The prevalence of current smokers among Asian medical students was found to be 11%. Females smoked less than their male counterparts. There has been an increased awareness of the hazards of passive smoking among the medical students and most were in favour of legislative actions to discourage tobacco advertising.
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