Factors associated with age of smoking initiation in adult populations from different ethnic backgrounds

Orna Baron-Epel, Amalia Haviv-Messika

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The age at which the individual begins smoking may influence the health of smokers at an older age. Cultural and social factors effect the age of smoking initiation. Methods: A cross-sectional national survey of a random sample of 6,021 Israeli residents over the age of 21 were interviewed by telephone. The sample consisted of 4248 Jews, 858 Arabs and 915 immigrants, 856 of them were from the former Soviet Union. Results: Compared to the Jewish population the Jews who immigrated from the former Soviet Union began smoking at an earlier age and the Arabs started smoking at an older age. The young respondents in all ethnic groups reported starting to smoke at a younger age compared to the older respondents, and there was a decrease in smoking initiation at an older age. Father smoking during childhood predicted earlier age of smoking initiation but not mother or sibling smoking, significantly among Jews and immigrants and non-significantly among Arabs. Conclusions: Age of smoking initiation is dependent on the ethnic background in which the smokers grow up, however, the influence of the father smoking seems to be similar in all population groups. It seems that a higher percentage of young adults started smoking at an early age and there is a decrease in smoking initiation at older ages in all ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-305
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Adults
  • Age of smoking initiation
  • Arabs
  • Immigrants
  • Jews
  • Parent smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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