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Medics are as likely to be smokers as other students

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 01 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:0407269a
  1. Manjulika Das1
  1. 1Calcutta

Medical education has little effect on medical students' decision to start smoking, according to a recent research done in China.1

Researchers questioned 1896 students from 12 Chinese universities--about half of whom were medical students--about their smoking habits and their perceptions of the harm and benefits of smoking. They found that that the prevalence of smoking does not differ significantly between medical and non-medical students and medical students were more likely (75.3%) to be occasional smokers than non-medical students (60.6%).

Shu-Hong Zhu, an author of the study and associate professor at the family and preventive medicine department of the University of California at San Diego said that smoking behaviour might be determined by two kinds of factor. Social norms regarding smoking for certain groups influence the decision to start smoking: “Our study has revealed that medical students, like any other college students in China, are increasingly expected to smoke, as they grow older. Medical education seems to help little in preventing them from taking up smoking,” he said.


"So, what got you into medicine?"

“The second kind of factor influences the choice of how much to smoke. Medical education does seem to influence this decision making process. It appears that medical students try to control their consumption level by smoking fewer cigarettes. Their medical knowledge about the harm of smoking contributes to such a decision,” he added.

“What is needed is a shift in societal norms regarding smoking, a shift that would make it easier not to smoke,” Zhu said. “We recommend …

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