THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Strong school smoking-prevention programs and high cigarette prices can reduce smoking among high school students, according to a new study.

The study included more than 24,000 students in grades 10 and 11 at 51 high schools in Canada. Researchers looked at the schools' smoking policies and prevention and quitting programs, along with community factors such as the price of cigarettes.

Rates of student smoking were lower at schools that had strong tobacco-prevention programs and had higher cigarettes prices in stores near the school. No other factors, including non-smoking policies, were associated with student smoking rates.

The study also found that schools in communities with a higher proportion of immigrants and with higher education levels also had lower rates of student smoking.

The study appears online Dec. 13 and in the February print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"Together these findings suggest that effective school-based approaches to reducing smoking among teens need to consider the broader school and community environment," wrote Chris Lovato, of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues.

"Lessons learned from this research will be relevant for countries developing tobacco-control programs as well as those countries now turning their focus to other youth health issues such as physical activity, nutrition and mental health," they concluded in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about youth tobacco prevention.