March 1986

School Performance Characteristics Preceding Onset of Smoking in High School Students

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Young) and Community Medicine (Dr Rogers), University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(3):257-259. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140170083038

• The cigarette smoking status of 1,442 high school students was determined by questionnaire. Of the respondents (smoking and nonsmoking), 60% had been enrolled in the same school system during elementary school. Thus, records were available of school absence, grades, achievement tests, and IQ tests during elementary school, prior to the time when the smokers had commenced the practice. Smoking in high school was significantly related to high absence rates, low achievement test scores, and low grade point averages during elementary school years, prior to the onset of smoking. The IQ was not significantly different in the third grade among pupils who became smokers in high school and those who did not, but sixth-grade IQ scores were significantly lower in students who later identified themselves as smokers. Although smokers demonstated these characteristics prior to beginning smoking, the differences were not large enough to predict which elementary school students would become high school smokers. The findings support the view that smoking and these school-related characteristics may both be part of a "smoker life-style."

(AJDC 1986;140:257-259)