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School-based tobacco control efforts and the smoking behaviour of high school students in Prince Edward Island, Canada: examining differences

  • Donna A. Murnaghan (a1) (a2), Marja Sihvonen (a3), Scott T. Leatherdale (a4) (a5) (a6) and P. Kekki (a3)

This study examined the factors related to whether or not school-based tobacco control efforts were associated with student smoking behaviour among two groups of students: Group 1 (15–17 years of age; grade 10 in 2000 and grade 11 in 2001) and Group 2 (16–19 years of age; grade 11 in 2000 and grade 12 in 2001).


Between 1999 and 2001, Prince Edward Island (PEI) introduced a province-wide initiative to implement both school-based policies banning smoking on school grounds and school-based smoking prevention programming, phased in over a three-year period, in all schools.


Data were collected from all 10 English-speaking secondary schools in PEI (Canada) over three years (1999–2001) using the Tobacco Module of the School Health Action, Planning and Evaluation System.


Results showed an increase in both occasional and regular smoking behaviour with Group 1 showing an 18% increase in occasional smoking compared to 3.9% for Group 2. The characteristic associated with an increased likelihood of regular and occasional smoking for 2000 and 2001 was students overestimating the percentage of youth their age who smoke. However, students’ knowledge and awareness of smoking policies and enforcement, students’ perceptions of schools having clear rules, and that students who break the rules get into trouble increased from 2000 to 2001. The findings from this study provide important information about how groups of students within schools experience tobacco control efforts differently. Addressing student misperceptions and policy implementation within schools may provide direction for tobacco control.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Donna A. Murnaghan, MN, PhD (c), PEI Health Research Institute, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 4P3, Canada. Email:
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
  • EISSN: 1477-1128
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