Adolescents' acquisition of cigarettes through noncommercial sources

J Adolesc Health. 2002 Oct;31(4):322-6. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(02)00393-2.


To examine the association between demographic and smoking behavior variables and the likelihood of acquiring cigarettes through noncommercial sources. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 1996 National Study of Tobacco Price Sensitivity, Behavior, and Attitudes among Teenagers and Young Adults was the data source in this analysis. Respondents were high school students (grades 9 through 12) ages 13 to 19 years. The sample sizes, respondent selection procedures, and weighting procedures were designed to develop national estimates of adolescent smoking behaviors and attitudes. The questionnaire, modeled on previous surveys and input from leading tobacco control experts, was self-administered. Logistic regression was used to model the independent effects of each variable on the outcome while controlling for the influence of all other variables in the model. An inverse relationship was found between age and the likelihood of acquiring cigarettes through noncommercial sources. Females were 58% more likely to acquire cigarettes through noncommercial sources than were males. There were no differences among adolescents of different racial/ethnic groups in acquisition through noncommercial sources. Those who believed that cigarettes were difficult to acquire were more likely to obtain cigarettes by noncommercial means. Although point-of-sale restrictions have been a focal point of tobacco control legislation, these data suggest that younger smokers and those who view commercial purchase to be difficult are not using commercial sources. Therefore, more comprehensive approaches to limiting access may be required to address all sources of adolescents' acquisition. The proliferation of point-of-sale restrictions may have contributed to increases in noncommercial acquisition by creating the impression that cigarettes were more difficult to purchase. This reinforces the need for educational programs, interventions, and policies that more effectively target noncommercial sources of cigarettes.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Commerce / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • United States / epidemiology