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Prev Med. 1998 Jul-Aug;27(4):583-9.

Linguistic acculturation and gender effects on smoking among Hispanic youth.

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Institute for Prevention Research, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Hispanic populations have been shown to be at high risk for smoking. The complex psychological process of adaptation to a different culture (acculturation) has been linked to smoking among Hispanic adults and adolescents. Although a positive association between acculturation and smoking appears to depend on gender among adults, research with Hispanic adolescents has ignored the moderating effect of gender.


Students in 22 New York City schools completed self-report questionnaires and provided carbon monoxide breath samples at two annual assessments. Sixth and seventh graders who identified themselves as Hispanics participated in the study (N = 1,295 at baseline; N = 1,034 at 1-year follow-up). The questionnaire included items related to smoking, acculturation, and demographic characteristics.


Analyses were conducted to determine the effects of linguistic acculturation and gender on smoking. Girls smoked more frequently than boys at both time points. Being more acculturated was also associated with more smoking at the two survey assessments. As predicted, adolescent smoking depended on both gender and linguistic acculturation. For girls, but not boys, the highly acculturated adolescents smoked more frequently than either the bilingual or the less acculturated.


Based on these findings, smoking prevention programs designed for Hispanic youth may benefit from an emphasis on Hispanic culture.

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