Ethnic differences in correlates of adolescent cigarette smoking

J Adolesc Health. 1998 Sep;23(3):167-80. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(98)00029-9.


Purpose: To examine the correlates of cigarette smoking among African-American, Hispanic, and white adolescents in a cross-sectional national sample.

Methods: A total of 1795 mother-child dyads from the 1992 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth were selected for analyses. Measures of adolescents cigarette smoking and family, individual, peer, and sociodemographic risk factors were analyzed.

Results: White youths reported the highest rates of lifetime, current, and persistent smoking, and initiated smoking at a significantly earlier age than African-Americans and Hispanics. Except for maternal cigarette smoking and substance use, African-Americans and Hispanics experienced a disproportionately larger number of purported risk factors than whites. Multivariate analyses revealed common and ethnic-specific correlates of adolescent lifetime and current smoking, with many more significant associations among whites than minorities. Common correlates included youth's age across all three ethnic groups, problem behaviors and delinquency among whites and African-Americans, and perceived peer pressure to smoke among whites and Hispanics. Ethnic-specific correlates included maternal smoking, maternal cocaine use, low maternal religiosity, and negative scholastic attitudes, which increased smoking for whites; and positive parenting, which reduced smoking for African-Americans.

Conclusions: The lack of effects of maternal smoking and perceived peer pressure to smoke on African-American adolescents compared with whites suggests that role modeling and interpersonal influence may be more important determinants of smoking for white than African-American adolescents. The differential impact of family and peer factors on the smoking of adolescents of different ethnicity warrants further investigation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Class