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Postcards from Scotland

School ethos can influence smoking behaviour in pupils

A recent study carried out by researchers at Glasgow University has revealed that pupils who experience a positive school environment are less likely to take up smoking.

Previous studies suggest that when dealing with some of the most urgent and important issues within society, such as obesity, smoking and depression, what may be crucial is an indirect approach to the problem. Take smoking for example; previous interventions have attempted direct action which has targeted the individual characteristics of the pupils rather than, say, the environment and these approaches tended not to work.  This, Scottish, study looks at the importance of investing in the social environment of the school and of making school a positive experience and the result that this has on smoking behaviour

Lead researcher, Marion Henderson, says that though smoking behaviour in adults has been decreasing, this change has not been observed in young people.  In her study of 5092 pupils from 24 Scottish schools, she found that around 25% of males and 39% of females aged 15 - 16 are either regularly or occasionally smoking.

What Henderson?s study found was that the school environment can act to either encourage or discourage smoking in pupils. The researchers say that the ?school effects? (can be accounted for beyond other factors such as whether the pupils smoked before) could be explained by pupils' attitudes towards school, quality of teacher-pupil relationships and school-level affluence.  Though this effect was observed for both boys and girls, it was particularly noticeable for the boys. The researchers say that this study has implications for healthy promoting schools. To access the article click here

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