Background: Prevention of youth smoking has great potential to improve the health of Americans. There is limited information about correlates of tobacco use among adolescents from ethnic minority groups, especially Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians.
Purpose: This article examines the relationships among ethnicity, sense of coherence (SOC), and tobacco use.
Methods: We conducted a baseline survey of a cluster randomized tobacco prevention trial in public middle schools in Hawaii with a multiethnic sample of 3,438 seventh-grade students.
Results: Ethnic differences in smoking prevalence were very large, with high smoking rates among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, White, and Filipino students and with low rates among Japanese and Chinese students. Higher SOC scores predicted significantly lower risk of having ever smoked and of smoking in the past 30 days. SOC was most strongly related to ever smoking among Filipino, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and White students; Japanese students experienced the strongest protective effect from SOC for past-month smoking.
Conclusions: The results suggest that SOC is strongly associated with tobacco use among this age group. It will be important to examine whether SOC can be improved by an intervention program and whether increases in SOC are associated with reduced smoking.