Ervin Toçi1,2, Dorina Toçi1, Herion Muja1, Alban Ylli1,2, Genc Burazeri2
1Institute of Public Health, Tirana, Albania;
2Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine, Tirana, Albania.
Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use among school adolescents in Albania in order to assess the potential for screening in primary health care settings.
Methods: This study used information retrieved from the first and second wave of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), carried out in 2011 and 2015, respectively, in Albania. In each wave, the information was collected in a representative sample of 9th and 10th classes selected randomly through a stratified sampling strategy. Lifetime prevalence of cigarette smoking use was retrieved from the question: “On how many occasions (if any) during your lifetime have you smoked cigarettes?” and lifetime prevalence of alcohol use was based on the question: “On how many occasions (if any) have you had any alcoholic beverage to drink?”, with any answer other than zero identifying lifetime users.
Results: About two-thirds (65.7%) of Albanian 9th and 10th graders had ever consumed any alcoholic beverages in 2015, marking a decrease compared to 72.4% in 2011. Prevalence of lifetime alcohol use was higher among boys, cultural classes (high school), private schools, urban areas and in Tirana compared to other districts. Prevalence of lifetime cigarette use was 34.9% in 2015, compared to 39.7% in 2011, and higher among boys, professional classes (high school), private schools and urban areas.
Conclusion: Alcohol and cigarette use is rather common among Albanian adolescents. Because national surveys are carried rather infrequently (every 4 years) then the potential to screen for adolescent alcohol and tobacco use in primary health care settings should be considered.
Keywords: adolescents, alcohol, ESPAD, tobacco, prevalence.