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Recent trends in cigarette smoking among high school students in Los Angeles: A cause for concern?

Mark D. Weber, PhD1, Shari Mills, PhD1, Monty Messex, MPH1, and Ric Loya2. (1) Tobacco Control and Prevention Program, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, 3530 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800, Los Angeles, CA 90010, 213-351-7810, mweber@dhs.co.la.ca.us, (2) Health Education Programs, Los Angeles Unified School District, KPMG Building, 355 South Grand Avenue, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Cigarette smoking almost invariably begins in adolescence. Early smoking onset is associated with heavier use, greater likelihood of adult smoking, and more difficulty quitting. Consequently, adolescent smoking is a prime focus of tobacco control efforts, which include active surveillance of youth smoking rates. The objective of this study is to examine recent trends in cigarette smoking among high school students in Los Angeles. Trend data are based on CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) conducted in Los Angeles high schools (grades 9-12) in 1997 (n=1763), 2001 (n=1295) and 2003 (n=1063). YRBS is a two-stage cluster sampling design (random sampling of schools then classrooms) with students completing anonymous, self-administered surveys. The study sample, averaged across the three surveys, was 66% Latino and 49% female. Logistic regression, controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, grade, and varying survey intervals, was used to estimate linear and nonlinear smoking trends for lifetime (ever), current (past 30 days), and frequent (20 or more out of past 30 days) use. Logistic regression results show statistically significant decreasing linear trends for lifetime (1997—69.8%; 2001—59.7%; 2003—54.7%), current (1997—26.3%; 2001—14.3%; 2003—14.4%) and frequent smoking (1997—6.0%; 2001—2.7%; 2003—2.2%). A significant nonlinear trend was also found for current smoking, indicating that the rate of decline in smoking had slowed. Current and frequent smoking decreased about 50% between 1997 and 2001. However, evidence that current smoking among adolescents may be stabilizing around 14% is concerning as it is well above the 2005 goal of 4% set by the California Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee. Careful monitoring of smoking rates and a review of adolescent tobacco control efforts is recommended.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Tobacco Control, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Youth and Tobacco Poster Session I

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA