Tobacco use among high school athletes and nonatieletes: results of the 1997 youth risk behavior survey

Adolescence. 2001 Winter;36(144):727-47.


In the United States today, the use of tobacco has become an entrenched part of teenage culture. The present study used the 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which collected data from a nationally representative sample of 16,262 students in public and private high schools, to compare the tobacco use patterns of athletes and nonathletes. The independent variable, athletic participation, differentiated between moderately involved (1 or 2 teams) and highly involved (3 or more teams) athletes. Frequency of cigarette and cigar smoking and smokeless tobacco use served as the operational measure of tobacco use. Age, race/ethnicity, parental education, and residence were controlled. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios for female and male athletes and nonathletes for each of the tobacco use variables. It was found that both male and female athletes were less likely to have ever smoked regularly, the effect being stronger for more highly involved athletes of both genders. Cigar smoking was unrelated to athlete status. Both female and male athletes were more likely to have used smokeless tobacco, the effect being stronger for more highly involved athletes of both genders. The findings are discussed in terms of access to health information, performance considerations, social status factors, the salience of an athletic identity, and the influence of the athletic subculture on its members.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Social Conformity
  • Sports*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*
  • United States / epidemiology