Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and its use is increasing in adolescents. To determine the interventions needed to prevent the initiation of smoking, it is important to know the factors related to tobacco use by adolescents. In this study the following factors related to cigarette use were examined: age, gender, ethnicity, self-esteem, physical activity, parental smoking, and socioeconomic status. Participants were 1,207 youth completing a written survey for the Cardiovascular Health in Children and Youth Study (CHIC II). Participants ranged in age from 10 to 15 years, with a mean age of 12.2 years; 64.2% were White, 24.0% Black, 5.8% Hispanic, and 6.0% other races. White and Hispanic youth and youth of other races had significantly higher rates of smoking than did Black youth. Significant risk factors for smoking were: higher grade in school, White race, and for girls only, lower self-esteem. In White youth those in the lowest socioeconomic status were most likely to be current and experimental smokers. Smoking was as common in girls as in boys at these ages. Multivariate analysis showed that neither physical activity nor parental smoking were significant predictors of smoking behaviors. These results suggest that smoking prevention programs for adolescents should specifically target White and Hispanic youth and those from families with low socioeconomic status. In addition, these interventions should include ways to increase self-esteem in girls.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.