June 10, 2007

Tobacco Use among Native Hawaiian Middle School Students: Its Prevalence, Correlates and Implications

Karen Glanz, Marjorie Mau, Alana Steffen, Gertraud Maskarinec, and Kimberly Jacob Arriola

Ethnicity & Health

Objectives—This study sought to explore whether Native Hawaiian primary ethnic identity is associated with cigarette use among Native Hawaiian middle school students. This study also explored whether social influence, psychosocial and cultural factors are associated with cigarette use in this sample.

Design—The data are from a cross-sectional survey of 1,695 Native Hawaiian middle school students at 22 public and private schools on five islands in Hawaii. A subset of these students from Native Hawaiian serving schools (N = 136) completed additional measures of Hawaiian cultural variables.

Results—Based on univariate analyses, students whose primary ethnic identification was Hawaiian were more likely to have tried smoking (p<0.001) and to be current smokers (p<0.05) as compared to those classified as part Hawaiian. However, these findings were no longer significant in multivariate analyses. Social influence variables (i.e. peer and parental smoking) were most influential in explaining both prior and current smoking. Attendance at public school was also an important factor in explaining previous (OR = 2.43; 95% CI = 1.74, 3.38) and current (OR = 7.20; 95% CI = 4.58, 11.32) smoking behavior. Finally, cultural variables such as valuing Hawaiian folklore, customs, activities and lifestyle were largely unassociated with smoking behavior among Native Hawaiian middle school youth.

Conclusions—Additional research is needed to understand what aspects of ethnic identity are associated with smoking behavior among Native Hawaiian youth. The strong influence of peer and parental smoking suggests the need for interventions that support the creation of social environments that discourage tobacco use.

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