Purpose: To determine the prevalence of, and identify protective and risk factors for, current tobacco use among American Indian adolescents.
Methods: Data from the Voices of Indian Teens Project were used to determine the prevalence of cigarette and smokeless tobacco (ST) use among a sample of 2390 American Indian adolescents, aged 13 to 20 years. Approximately 49% of the sample were female. Data were collected in Fall 1993 among participants from 10 high schools located in five western American Indian communities. The instrument consisted of scales that assessed psychosocial beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors as well as tobacco use. Logistic regression was used to identify protective and risk factors for tobacco use. A replication subsample was used to test the final models.
Results: Approximately 50% of American Indian adolescents in this sample reported some type of cigarette use, and approximately 21% reported using smokeless tobacco. Academic orientation was the only protective factor for cigarette use that replicated in both subsamples. Death/loss and other stressful life events were the risk factors for cigarette and/or ST use that replicated in both subsamples.
Conclusions: The prevalence of tobacco use was high in this sample of American Indian adolescents. Several risk and protective factors were identified, the knowledge of which may inform preventive interventions in this population.