From Center for the Advancement of Health
Black, Hispanic teens smoke less than whites, but share same risks for starting Smoking rates among ethnic groups may vary, but, no matter their ethnicity, teenagers who display problem behaviors are more likely to start smoking and keep smoking than their peers, according to new study.
"There are more commonalities than differences in the risk and protective factors that account for initiation and persistence of smoking among white, African-American and Hispanic adolescents," says study author Denise B. Kandel, Ph.D., of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
Across ethnic groups, teenagers who exhibited risk-taking behaviors, rebelliousness and delinquency were more likely to smoke than those who did not. In contrast, those with good relationships with their parents were less likely to smoke than those with poor relationships.
The study results are published in the February issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
The study is based on interviews conducted in 1992 and 1994 with more than 1,500 children age 10 and older and their mothers. The study sample disproportionately included children born to young mothers.
White adolescents were more likely to start smoking than African-American or Hispanic teens. White teens were also about three times as likely to keep smoking as the minority teens, and white teen girls were more likely to start smoking than white teen boys, Kandel says.
African-American mothers gave birth at a younger age and monitored their children less than the other mothers, but this did not seem to affect their children's likelihood of smoking. In contrast, a poor mother-child relationship was a risk factor for smoking in white teens, while good parenting imparted a protective effect against smoking across ethnicities.
White mothers were much more likely to smoke cigarettes than black or Hispanic mothers, a risk factor for smoking by teenagers in all ethnic groups.
Across all ethnic groups, problem behavior was a risk factor for smoking, significantly increasing the chances that teens would try cigarettes and nearly doubling the likelihood that teens would become habitual smokers.
"The findings underscore the importance of targeting problem behaviors, including delinquency, risk-taking, rebelliousness and parental smoking, as common risk factors for smoking for youths of different ethnicity," says Kandel, who suggests these patterns of behaviors could be identified and prevented before children reach adolescence.
The study was funded in part by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data for this study was collected by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth conducted by the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State University for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nicotine & Tobacco Research is the official peer-reviewed quarterly journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. For information about the journal, contact Gary E. Swan, Ph.D., at (650) 859-5322.