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Prev Med. 1998 May-Jun;27(3):365-84.

Cigarette smoking in a multiethnic population of youth: methods and baseline findings.

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  • 1Department of Behavioral Science, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030-4095, USA.



To expand upon recent research studies that have identified dramatic ethnic differences in adolescent cigarette smoking, this study was designed to characterize smoking among a multiethnic population of adolescents and to identify significant factors that may protect against smoking initiation.


During the first 2 years, this mixed cross-sectional, longitudinal study recruited and collected baseline data from a volunteer sample of 1,441 Houston-area public school students in the 5th, 8th, or 12th grade. A wide range of new and established predictors of smoking behavior was assessed, and their associations with ever smoking and susceptibility to smoking were assessed within ethnicity (white, N = 537; African-American, N = 454; and Hispanic, N = 297).


Consistent with previous studies, white students smoked in substantially higher proportions than African-American students, with Hispanic adolescents in-between. Simultaneously adjusting for other variables, the odds of ever smoking (OR = 0.47, P < 0.01) and susceptibility to smoking (OR = 0.64, P < 0.01) were significantly lower among African-American adolescents when compared with whites; odds ratios for Hispanics and whites did not differ. Across all three ethnicities, the most important predictor of both ever smoking and susceptibility to smoking was the smoking status of the three best friends. Several ethnicity-specific variables also were identified.


In concordance with previous investigations, cigarette smoking prevalence differs by ethnicity, and the factors associated with ever smoking and susceptibility to smoking differ among white, African-American, and Hispanic adolescents. The results of this study may be used to develop theory-based, culturally appropriate smoking intervention programs for adolescents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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