Kava, alcohol and tobacco consumption among Tongans with urbanization

Soc Sci Med. 1982;16(1):35-41. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(82)90421-x.


The prevalence of kava (Piper methysticum), alcohol and tobacco consumption in Nuku'alofa (urban) and Foa (rural) are described. Current kava consumption was males 48% and females 1%. Prevalence was significantly higher among rural males. Current alcohol consumption was almost exclusive to the urban population and predominantly male, but only 2 (1%) rural males were current alcohol consumers. 169 (84.0%) of the rural males were irregularly or had ceased consuming alcohol. Tobacco consumption also showed a significant male predominance. There was a significantly higher total tobacco consumption in the urban population. Concordance of the three habits was evident among males with 27 concordant positive (expected = 5.98) and 46 concordant negative (expected = 6.60). It appears that kava, a traditional Pacific beverage may have lost ground to alcohol as urban Tongans adopt a more cosmopolitan life style. Kava, if proved relatively harmless, may be promoted as a less unhealthy alternative to tobacco and alcohol.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Beverages
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plants*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking*
  • Tonga
  • Urbanization*