Gender and ethnic differences in young adolescents' sources of cigarettes


Objective - To identify the sources used by young adolescents to obtain cigarettes. Design - In early 1994 a survey assessing usual sources of cigarettes and characteristics of the respondents was administered in homeroom classes. Setting - A large urban, predominantly African American school system. Subjects - A population-based sample of 6967 seventh graders averaging 13 years of age. Main outcome measure - Reports of usual sources of cigarettes. Results - At this age level, young smokers were more likely to get cigarettes from friends (31.2%) than buy them in stores (14.3%). However, the odds of purchasing varied for different groups of children. Regular smokers were much more likely (48.3%) to have purchased cigarettes than experimental smokers (9.6%), p<0.001. Girls were less likely to have bought their cigarettes than boys (p<0.001), and black smokers were less likely to have purchased cigarettes than white children (p<0.001). Results suggested that family members who smoke may constitute a more important source of tobacco products than previously recognised, particularly for young girls. Conclusions - In this middle-school sample, peers provided the major point of cigarette distribution. However, even at this age, direct purchase was not uncommon. Sources of cigarettes varied significantly with gender, ethnicity, and smoking rate.

Publication Title

Tobacco Control