The prevalence of smoking among this group of male teenagers in Jeddah secondary schools was higher (37.1%) than the rate in some previous Saudi studies . The prevalence cited by Abdalla et al.  was 34% among current male cigarette smokers (students who had smoked on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey), and 11.1% among males who were daily smokers. Similarly Al Ghobain et al.  found a smoking prevalence of 31.2% among male students aged 16–18 years in Riyadh and the significant smoking-related factors were having smoker friends and parents. One of the possible reasons for this finding is that our study included all who answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘are you a smoker?’ even if irregular, as long as they had not quit. In our opinion, smoking at that age is probably in the trial phase and irregular in a considerable number of youths. Nevertheless, this factor should be considered from a preventive perspective because smoking at that age is expected to become a lifelong habit in a proportion of students, which will make quitting more difficult .
The significant effect of the parents’ level of education on their children’s behavior is to be expected, especially in the Saudi society where children are of an age presumably still influenced by their home values and beliefs. Moreover, in most cases, a better-educated parent could deal more effectively and rationally with their children’s behavior [18, 19].
The results of the logistic regression model showed that the factors of smoking peers and the role played by a smoking household member were the only significant variables in this model. At this age, peer pressure is expected to play an important role in the students’ behavior, especially when combined with the detrimental effect of the presence of a smoking household member . This negative combination will probably result in a tendency towards being a smoker.
The smoking behavior of this age group reflects their eagerness to discover different types of smoking as shown by a mostly equal prevalence of different methods of smoking tobacco as cigarettes, shisha, nargile, and even combinations of methods. This behavior is considered a warning sign because more detrimental and strongly addictive narcotic substances have entered Saudi Arabia recently and are readily available to this young age group. However, in this study, family income had no effect on smoking prevalence, which indicates that the cost of regular methods of smoking is affordable compared with the expected prices of the more dangerous narcotic substances.
When asked why they or other youths smoke, most students denied that they started smoking because of peer pressure or relatives, but stated they smoked as a personal choice and for entertainment. Smoking as entertainment was reported in some studies where youths combined smoking with other entertainment . An important point of interest concerning the personal choice to smoke is that students claim they will respect that personal choice if made by members of their own future families.
Among the positive aspects of this study was the finding that most students did not feel any discomfort from being prevented from smoking while in a nonsmoking zone, which probably indicated that the majority were still in a nonaddicted phase. Again, the majority of students intend to quit, especially if suitably supported, or had already tried to quit. Another positive finding is that most sought information about smoking risks. However, the accessed information was unclear since most did not know what passive smoking was. Such misinformation may cause health risks and negative repercussions for their peers and relatives, which calls for specifically tailored educational messages for this age group.
The limitations of this study were the exclusion of nongovernmental schools for the sake of a homogeneous sociodemographic student sample and the selection of only male students to overcome some administrative and social difficulties related to including female students in this study.