Aims: The objectives of this study are to identify the relationship between ethnic identity and tobacco use, and to examine the mediating effects of peer and sibling smoking and acculturation.
Design and measurements: Data were drawn from a cross-sectional survey of 3400 Toronto students, sampled from 30 schools between 1998 and 2000. Primary ethnic identity was based on adolescents' self-identification of their ethnic heritage condensed to 12 groups for analysis. Tobacco use was measured as a dichotomy, predicting non-smoking in the past year. Multivariate logistic regression models were employed to test for baseline differences in non-smoking by ethnic identity. Subsequent models adjusted for controls (age, gender, social class, religious attendance, educational achievement) and introduced mediators.
Findings: Results indicated that smoking varied among adolescents of differing ethnic identities. Adolescents of western European, eastern European and southern European ethnicity were considerably less likely to be non-smokers, while Chinese, South Asian and East Indian and West Indian youth were more inclined to be non-smokers. The discrepancies in rates of non-smoking among western European and South Asian and East Indian adolescents were explained by a combination of peer and sibling smoking and acculturation; among southern European and eastern European youth via peer and sibling smoking; and by neither peer and sibling smoking nor acculturation for Chinese and West Indian youth.
Conclusions: This paper demonstrates that disparities in tobacco use among certain ethnic groups can be explained by peer and sibling smoking and acculturation; however, for other ethnic groups, knowledge of the processes that account for differences in tobacco use remains less clear.