Background: Tobacco use, underreported among Louisiana youth, was examined among 9th grade students in south central Louisiana; profiles of tobacco use were developed to inform adolescent tobacco control programs.
Methods: Cross-sectional Health Habits Survey was administered to 4,808 students who were about 15 years old, predominantly white, with gender almost evenly distributed. Saliva samples were collected from 1,966 students. Analysis of a subsample resulted in good concordance between self-reported daily tobacco use and cotinine.
Results: About 58% of students ever smoked a cigarette, 25% had a cigarette within the previous 30 days, 17% smoked within the past 7 days and almost 8% reported smokeless tobacco use. Smokeless tobacco use was greater for males than females. Caucasians, native Americans, and Latinos were more likely to smoke than African-Americans. Social relationships associated with adolescent smoking included having a friend, parent and/or sibling who smoked, having a friend who consumed alcohol, and being around people who used alcohol for "kicks." The attitudes of nonsmokers were consistently in the positive direction relative to disapproval of tobacco and alcohol use. The profiles differed demographically between black and white students.
Conclusions: These data provide the needed information for guiding health promotion and tobacco control efforts, specifically regarding black/white differences.