African-Americans Smoke Less in Teens, May Catch up by 30s..

November 12, 2008 - Fred Pampel, Ph.D., a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "For cigarette smoking, African-Americans (blacks) tend to act in a more healthy way during their teens, but that advantage goes away by middle age."

The study appears in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Pampel used data from two surveys to make his conclusions.

The National Youth Survey followed the same group of people between ages 12 to 18 in 1977 for 15 years through 1992. The National Health Interview Survey questioned different samples of people 18 and older for 30 years ending in 2006. Pampel looked at groups of white and black teens to see how their cigarette smoking patterns changed as they aged.

"The analysis found that this change is indeed real," said Pampel, and "the disappearance at older ages of the African-American advantage during the teens is more apparent among younger generations than older ones.

C. Tracy Orleans, Ph.D., of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said the study did not factor in possible socio-demographic differences in exposure to higher tobacco prices and taxes, which "deter youth onset and promote quitting, especially among low-income smokers, and protection by worksite and comprehensive smoke-free airs laws, which affect adult cessation more than youth initiation." Gary Giovino, Ph.D., at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, does not necessarily agree with the study's conclusions.

Reference: African-Americans Smoke Less In Teens, Catch Up By 30s, Medical News Today, 11/10/2008.

African Americans start smoking later in life (Sterling and Weinkam, Amer. J. Ind. Med. 15:319-333, 1989), Royce et al., Amer. J. Public Health 83(2):220-226, 1993), USDHHS, SG Report 1998) and less likely to be heavy smokers (Robinson et al., Kaiser Foundation 1991) , Harris et al., Int. J. Epidemiol. 22(4):592-599, 1993), Coultas et al., Amer. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 149(3 Pt 2):S93-S131, 1994) but have a greater risk of developing a tobacco attributable disease (USDHHS, SG Report 1998).