Youth curiosity about cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars: prevalence and associations with advertising

Am J Prev Med. 2014 Aug;47(2 Suppl 1):S76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.04.012.


Background: Curiosity about cigarettes is a reliable predictor of susceptibility to smoking and established use among youth. Related research has been limited to cigarettes, and lacks national-level estimates. Factors associated with curiosity about tobacco products, such as advertising, have been postulated but rarely tested.

Purpose: To describe the prevalence of curiosity about cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars among youth and explore the association between curiosity and self-reported tobacco advertising exposure.

Methods: Data from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a nationally representative survey of 24,658 students, were used. In 2013, estimates weighted to the national youth school population were calculated for curiosity about cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars among never users of any tobacco product. Associations between tobacco advertising and curiosity were explored using multivariable regressions.

Results: Curiosity about cigarettes (28.8%); cigars (19.5%); and smokeless tobacco (9.7%) was found, and many youth were curious about more than one product. Exposure to point-of-sale advertising (e.g., OR=1.35, 95% CI=1.19, 1.54 for cigarette curiosity); tobacco company communications (e.g., OR=1.70, 95% CI=1.38, 2.09 for cigarette curiosity); and tobacco products, as well as viewing tobacco use in TV/movies (e.g., OR=1.37, 95% CI=1.20, 1.58 for cigarette curiosity) were associated with curiosity about each examined tobacco product.

Conclusions: Despite decreasing use of tobacco products, youth remain curious about them. Curiosity is associated with various forms of tobacco advertising. These findings suggest the importance of measuring curiosity as an early warning signal for potential future tobacco use and evaluating continued efforts to limit exposure to tobacco marketing among youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising / methods*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Students / psychology
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless
  • United States / epidemiology