Ethnic variation in socioenvironmental factors that influence adolescent smoking

Ellen Dornelas, Christi Patten, Edward Fischer, Paul A. Decker, Ken Offord, Jeremy Barbagallo, Suzanne Pingree, Ivana Croghan, Jasjit S. Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: To compare black, Hispanic and white adolescent smokers on socioenvironmental factors associated with smoking. Methods: The study uses a cross-sectional design. A needs assessment of 1305 current, former and never adolescent smokers from four ethnically and geographically diverse sites in the United States was conducted in 1999. Two sites were selected because they represented urban cities in the Northeast and Midwest with a high proportion of black and Hispanic residents. Two additional sites were selected to recruit rural and suburban adolescents. From this larger sample, 181 subjects from three focal ethnic groups (white n = 138; black n = 24; Hispanic n = 19) who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and were current smokers (smoked in the past 30 days) were included. The three ethnic groups were compared on the following variables of interest: peer and family influences on smoking, situational factors associated with smoking, places that were likely sites for smoking and perceptions of friends and family as potential support persons for quitting smoking. All data were analyzed with Chi-square analysis. Results: Almost all (96%) of the black adolescents lived with another smoker compared to 68% of Hispanic and 60% of whites (p = .004). Black teens were more likely to smoke with family members (50%) than Hispanics (5%) or whites (25%) (p = .003). In addition, 50% of black teens compared to 5% of Hispanics and 12% of white teens, reported smoking to fit in (p < .0001). Black teens in this study emphasized the familial and social pressures of smoking. Higher rates of acceptance of smoking by family members, role modeling by household members, more prevalent beliefs that smoking is a way to achieve belonging, and lack of perceived support for quitting by friends appear to influence cigarette smoking more for black than white or Hispanic youth. Conclusions: These preliminary results indicate that familial and household norms play a critical role in influencing cigarette smoking among black teens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-177
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the following collaborators on this study: Richard D. Hurt, M.D., Rhonda Baumberger, Troy Wolter and Jill Daniels, Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic, David Gustufson, Ph.D., Eric Boberg, Ph.D. and Tracy Meis, from the University of Wiconsin, Madison and Kari J. Harris, Ph.D from the University of Kansas. This study was supported by grant #R01CA80323 from the National Cancer Institute.


  • Adolescents
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Ethnicity

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