Tri-Ethnic Center

College of Natural Sciences

Are tobacco use rates for American Indian adolescents similar to those for non-Indian youth?

Rates of tobacco use for American Indian and non-Indian youth were compared using a sample of approximately 840 American Indian 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students living on or near reservations and 48,000 youth of the same grades from Monitoring the Future (MTF).

Overall, American Indian youth show tobacco use at higher or similar rates, depending on the grade level, than non-AI youth. For example, 13% of 8th grade AI youth reported smoking cigarettes daily compared to only 4% of MTF youth. However, by 12th grade the percentages for smoking cigarettes were nearly the same. This may be indicative of a higher dropout rate among AI smokers or it may indicate that AI youth, on average, initiate cigarette smoking at an earlier age. Regardless, perceived harm is significantly greater for the national sample than the AI sample for all grades. However, very little difference is seen in the perceived availability of cigarettes. Finally, daily smokeless tobacco use for AI 8th graders is higher than MTF 8th graders, but by 10th grade, this difference disappears.





Beauvais F., Thurman P.J., Burnside M, & Plested B. (2007).   Prevalence of American Indian adolescent tobacco use: 1993-2004. Substance Use and Misuse. 42(4), 591-601.