Study: White Teens Start Smoking Way Earlier Than Black and Latino Teens

March 11, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

White teens are way more into alcohol, tobacco and weed than black and Latino teens. But as white kids enter adulthood, their usage drops, while teens of color increase usage, according to new research from Penn State:

At 18.5 years old, 44 percent of whites surveyed smoked cigarettes, 27 percent of Hispanics did and 18 percent of blacks. However at 29 years old, 40 percent of whites were using cigarettes, 30 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of blacks smoked.

Cigarettes are considered by the CDC to be the number one preventable cause of death in the United States. There have been multiple studies that break down cigarette use by race and gender, but this one further segments the audience to find how usage patterns vary between demographics over time. It may help researchers and activists refocus their efforts on how to educate young people about the various substances:

“I think that the most important point is that there are big age-related differences in substance use by gender and race/ethnicity,” said Rebecca J. Evans-Polce, postdoctoral fellow, Bennett Pierce Prevention Center. “In particular, African Americans show an increased prevalence in cigarette use much later than white adolescents. We need to think about tobacco prevention interventions that are targeted towards young adults, when use is increasing among African Americans, instead of just for younger adolescents.”

As has reflected by other studies, the research showed that alcohol use was higher for teenage boys than girls.

(Photo: Duc Digital)