Perceived Discrimination as a Risk Factor for Use of Emerging Tobacco Products: More Similarities Than Differences Across Demographic Groups and Attributions for Discrimination

Subst Use Misuse. 2018 Aug 24;53(10):1638-1644. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1421226. Epub 2018 Jan 17.


Background: Perceived discrimination has been associated with cigarette smoking and other substance use among members of disadvantaged minority groups. However, most studies have focused on a single minority group, have not considered the individual's attribution for the discrimination, and have not considered emerging tobacco products.

Objective: This study examined the associations between perceived discrimination and use of six tobacco products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah, and smokeless tobacco) in a diverse sample of 1,068 adults in the United States.

Methods: Participants were recruited on Amazon's Mechanical Turk and participated in an online survey. Logistic regression models were used to examine the association between perceived discrimination and use of each tobacco product. Interactions between discrimination and demographic characteristics, and between discrimination and perceived reasons for discrimination, were evaluated.

Results: Controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, and socioeconomic status, perceived discrimination was a risk factor for current use of five of the six tobacco products. These associations were consistent across racial/ethnic groups and regardless of the individual's attribution for the reason for the discrimination.

Conclusions: Results indicate that perceived discrimination is a risk factor for the use of multiple tobacco products, and that this association is not limited to particular demographic groups or types of discrimination. Public health programs could potentially reduce tobacco-related disease by teaching healthier ways to cope with discrimination.

Keywords: Cigarette; discrimination; e-cigarette; tobacco.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Devices
  • Social Discrimination / psychology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult