Race/ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, and smoking among early adolescent girls in the United States

John M. Wallace, Michael G. Vaughn, Jerald G. Bachman, Patrick M. O'Malley, Lloyd D. Johnston, John E. Schulenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study uses large nationally representative samples of White, Black, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Other Latina, Asian American, and American Indian 8th-grade girls to examine racial/ethnic differences and similarities in patterns, trends, and socioeconomic correlates of cigarette use. Methods: The data are drawn from the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study. Prevalence and trend data (from 1991 to 2007) in girls' cigarette use were examined by racial/ethnic subgroup. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the extent to which socioeconomic factors predict girls' cigarette use, and whether the relationships between socioeconomic status (SES) and smoking differed across racial/ethnic subgroup. Results: Cigarette use was highest among American Indian girls; at an intermediate level among Mexican American, Puerto Rican, Other Latinas, and White girls; and lowest among Black and Asian American girls. Trend data show that cigarette use has declined for all racial/ethnic subgroups, and that small but consistent racial/ethnic differences in girls' cigarette use have persisted. Generally, girls who did not live in two-parent households, whose parents had lower levels of educational attainment, who attended lower SES schools, and who had more disposable income were more likely than their peers to smoke. That said, however, the relationships between smoking and parental education and school SES were, on average, stronger for White girls than for Black or Hispanic (Mexican American, Other Latina, Puerto Rican) girls. Conclusions: Future research should seek to understand the mechanisms by which low SES impacts smoking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S42-S49
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by grant number R01DA01411 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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