Smoking is a major cause of morbidity and mortality all over the world. An effective anti-smoking campaign should be based on knowledge of the attitudes and characteristics of the target population. The aim of the present study was to investigate the smoking habits and attitudes of young male adults in Greece and especially the relationship between the age at which smoking begins and the severity of smoking. A questionnaire consisting of 38 questions related to smoking habits, was distributed to 1,054 male recruits of the Greek Army. The median age of responders was 21 ± 2.5 (range 17-30 years). It was found that of the 1,054 some 496 (47.1%) were current smokers and 112(10.6%) were ex-smokers. The mean cigarette consumption was 19.4 ± 10.3 per day and the mean age at which smoking began was 17.1 ± 2.2. Four hundred and thirty-four (77.5%) of the responders wanted to stop smoking. There was no significant difference found between the smoking habits of the parents and those of the responders. A significant negative relation was found between the age at which smoking began and the severity of smoking (r =-0.234, p < 0.001). The results of this study suggest that a large number of young Greek males are smokers and a high percentage of them want to quit smoking. An anti-smoking campaign should start early in childhood, since the earlier smoking begins the heavier it is in adulthood.

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