Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Socio-Demographic Correlates of Cigarette Smoking among High School Students: Results from the British Columbia Youth Survey on Smoking and Health

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Socio-Demographic Correlates of Cigarette Smoking among High School Students: Results from the British Columbia Youth Survey on Smoking and Health

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Objective: To describe the association between selected socio-demographic factors (age, gender, ethnicity, and region) and the prevalence of smoking among adolescents in two regions of British Columbia, and to report recent findings related to the prevalence of tobacco use in British Columbia.

Methods: A cross-sectional school-based survey was conducted using a random sample of 3,280 students from 13 schools in two regions of British Columbia. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between age, region, gender and ethnicity and smoking status.

Results: Ethnic group membership was strongly associated with smoking status, which changed very little after controlling for the other socio-demographic factors. Controlling for age and ethnicity, the effect of gender on smoking status was moderated by region.

Conclusion: Reliance on general population tobacco use prevalence rates masks important ethnic and gender differences. To increase the effectiveness of tobacco control policies and programming, greater attention needs to be paid to the socio-demographic correlates associated with adolescents' tobacco use.

There is accruing evidence that the prevalence of cigarette smoking among Canadian adolescents aged 15-19 years has been declining in recent years. In the latest national survey on tobacco use, less than one quarter of teenagers (24% of girls and 21% of boys) reported smoking cigarettes, either daily or occasionally.' While still highly problematic, these rates are significantly lower than the levels recorded in the mid-1990s and suggest that youth tobacco reduction initiatives may be having some impact. The distribution of smoking among teenagers across the country, however, is far from uniform. There is considerable variation in the prevalence of youth smoking across provinces, hovering around 18% in British Columbia compared to 30% in New Brunswick and Quebec.2,3 Regional differences within British Columbia also have been documented.4 There is some evidence of substantial differences in the prevalence of smoking among Canadian teenagers of different ethnic backgrounds.3,5,6 Socio-demographic correlates of tobacco use by Canadian adults have not been systematically observed in the adolescent population. Although the reporting of gender and provincial differences in youth smoking rates is common and useful, given the variability in prevalence rates, documentation of how tobacco use varies across other subgroups of Canadian adolescents remains relatively scarce.

Given differences in the way gender itself is both structured and experienced by adolescents from different subgroups,7 it may have more of an influence on the prevalence of smoking for certain adolescent subpopulations. The purpose of this paper is to describe the associations between particular socio-demographic factors (age, gender, ethnicity, region) and the prevalence of smoking among adolescents in two regions of British Columbia.

METHODS

Setting

The British Columbia Youth Survey on Smoking and Health (BCYSOSH) is a cross-sectional survey that took place in two regions of British Columbia: the City of Vancouver and the City of Prince George and area. Vancouver has a population of 546,000 (excluding its suburbs) with a median household income of $42,026 and median age of 37.2 years. The population is ethnically diverse with 49.0% indicating that they are members of visible minority groups (non-Aboriginal), mostly Chinese and South Asian; 1.9% of the population is Aboriginal. Prince George, known as EC's northern capital, has a population of 85,000. The median household income is $52,826 and the median age is 34.5 years. The community is less diverse with 5.3% identifying with a non-Aboriginal visible minority group (mostly South Asian); 9.4% of the population is Aboriginal.8

Sample

The BCYSOSH was administered between October 2001 and May 2002 to a stratified, random sample of 3,280 students enrolled in grades ten and eleven in 13 schools in two school districts in British Columbia. …

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