Does marijuana use serve as a gateway to cigarette use for high-risk African-American youth?

Michael Vaughn, John Wallace, Brian Perron, Valire Copeland, Matthew Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Objectives: The purpose of this investigation was to test whether the gateway hypothesis of drug initiation sequencing applies equally well to high-risk African-American and Caucasian youth. Methods: The study sample (N = 618, mean age = 15.5, SD = 1.2) represented the population of residents in the Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) who had initiated marijuana and nicotine use. Results: As hypothesized, African-American youth were significantly more likely to initiate marijuana use before cigarette use. Over one-third of African Americans reported initiating marijuana before cigarettes (37.9%), compared to less than one-quarter of youth in the other ethnic groups (Caucasian = 17.3%, Latino/Latina = 21.7%, Biracial/Other = 20.8%). Further, multinomial simulation and logistic regression models revealed that African-American youth were significantly more likely than other ethnic groups to initiate marijuana before cigarettes (Adjusted OR = 3.53, CI = 1.92-6.46). Conclusions/Scientific Significance: Findings suggest that the hypothesized gateway sequence may not apply equally well to African-Americans, and that prevention efforts based on this theory may need to be amended for these youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-791
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse grants DA 15929 and DA 15556, and by the Curtis Center of the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Does marijuana use serve as a gateway to cigarette use for high-risk African-American youth?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this