Facilitating adolescent smoking: who provides the cigarettes?

Am J Health Promot. 2005 May-Jun;19(5):355-60. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-19.5.355.


Purpose: Most adolescent smokers obtain cigarettes through social sources. We examine the extent to which cigarettes are provided by facilitators of legal age to purchase cigarettes.

Design: Analyses of data from the 1999 California Tobacco Survey, a large population-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey, are reported.

Setting: California.

Subjects: Data were from a subset of 1239 adolescent (12-17 years) respondents who reported ever having smoked a cigarette. The response rate for all adolescents selected for interview was 75.5%.

Measures: We describe cigarette providers to adolescents in social (cigarettes given to the adolescent) and economic (someone else buys cigarettes for the adolescent) transactions by the reported facilitator's age.

Results: Of the 82.2% +/- 2.6% of adolescents who had ever smoked who usually obtained cigarettes from others, 21.6% +/- 2.5% used economic transactions; most (60.6% +/- 3.4%) were given cigarettes. The majority (73.3% +/- 3.6%) of those relying on social sources were given cigarettes by someone < 18 years of age; very few were given cigarettes by someone 21+ years old. Most (90.4% +/- 2.0%) usually given cigarettes reported friends as facilitators. Of those who relied on economic transactions, 56.1% +/- 6.6% reported facilitators who were 18- to 20-year-olds, another 24.7% +/- 6.3% had suppliers > or = 21 years of age. Altogether, 80.8% +/- 5.8% of facilitators in economic transactions were > or = 18 years of age.

Conclusions: Until peer approval of smoking and sharing cigarettes and adult facilitation of adolescent smoking is reduced, it will be difficult to significantly reduce adolescents' access to cigarettes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • California
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence