Trends in adolescent smoking rates in South Korea have not shown substantial progress due to a lack of effective anti-smoking interventions and policies in school settings.
We examined individual- and school-level determinants of adolescent smoking behavior (ever smoking, current smoking, and daily smoking) using the nationally representative fifth Korean Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey conducted in 2009. We found that students in coeducation schools or vocational high schools had greater risks of smoking for each type of smoking behavior than those in single-sex schools or general high schools, respectively even after controlling for individual-level factors. Higher family affluence and higher weekly allowances were associated with greater risks of ever smoking, current smoking and daily smoking even after controlling for parental education and other confounders.
Whilst caution is required in interpreting results given the cross-sectional nature of the study, our findings suggest that in addition to raising the price of cigarettes, youth anti-smoking interventions in South Korea may benefit from focusing on coeducation schools and vocational high schools.