How Girls and Boys Get Tobacco: Adults and Other Sources

Department of Human Development, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.
Journal of Adolescent Health (Impact Factor: 3.61). 09/2009; 45(2):208-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.02.010
Source: PubMed
ABSTRACT
This study of current tobacco users from the 2005 Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey (N = 426) finds that girls were significantly more likely to receive cigarettes for free, particularly from adults, and were also more likely to receive cigars or cigarillos for free, but were more likely to buy smokeless tobacco from a store compared to boys.
Adolescent health brief
How Girls and Boys Get Tobacco: Adults and Other Sources
Christine E. Kaestle, Ph.D.
*
Department of Human Development, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
Manuscript received August 14, 2008; manuscript accepted February 14, 2009
Abstract This study of current tobacco users from the 2005 Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey (N ¼ 426) finds that
girls were significantly more likely to receive cigarettes for free, particularly from adults, and were also
more likely to receive cigars or cigarillos for free, but were more likely to buy smokeless tobacco from
a store compared to boys. Ó 2009 Society for Adolescent Medicine. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Cigarette smoking; Tobacco; Adolescent health behavior
Tobacco interventions that target law enforcement or peer
norms are common, but they do not address the potential role
of adults providing tobacco products in social situations.
Such adults may not be much older than the youths they
supply. In fact, adult smokers aged 18 to 19 are the most
likely group of adults to be asked to provide cigarettes to
someone under age [1].
Social Cognitive Theory recognizes that people learn
behaviors from observing models [2]. Imitation is more likely
when observers admire the model and the behavior is
repeated and produces positive results. Young adult smokers
may be admired by younger teens and are like ly to repeatedly
experience positive results in public such as enjoyment and
independence. A developmental perspective recognizes that
some behaviors in adolescence are motivated by the desire
to take on adult roles [3], which gives adult friends a special
salience as behavioral models in a social learn ing context.
As girls develop through adolescence, the proportion of
their opposite gender friends increases markedly compared
to boys, and these opposite-gender friends are more likely
to be substantially older [4]. This may increase the avail-
ability of older smoking behavioral models for adolescent
girls compared to boys. In addition, men may be less reluc-
tant to provide cigarettes to underage youth compared to
women [5].
Previous research has shown that girls are more likely to
obtain cigarettes through noncommercial sources [6,7].
However, when girls do attempt to purchase, they appear to
succeed more often than boys [8]. Although previous studies
indicate different cigarette acquisition strategies for boys and
girls, they have not always controlled for the age of the
adolescent or examined the age of the cigarette suppliers in
noncommercial situations, and they have not looked at other
tobacco products [7,8]. The purpose of this study is to fill
these gaps and to explore gender differences in how adoles-
cents access tobacco and how adults are involved as
providers in noncommercial situations. This study tests the
following research question: controlling for age, race and
ethnicity, and living with a smoker, are girls more likely to
receive their cigarettes and other tobacco products from
adults for free compared to boys?
Methods
This study draws from the 2005 Virgin ia Youth Tobacco
Survey (Virginia YTS, see http://www.vtsf.org/data/
youth-tobacco-survey.asp ), which was given to a representa-
tive sample of over 2000 middle and high school stude nts
using a two-stage cluster sampling design at the school and
classroom levels. Respondents were asked a series of ques-
tions about tobacco use and access. This exploratory study
examines those respondents who were current tobacco users
(N ¼ 426) who had acquired cigarettes (N ¼ 31 8), cigars or
cigarillos (N ¼ 201), or smokeless tobacco (N ¼ 130) in the
last month.
*Address correspondence to: Christine E. Kaestle, Ph.D., Department of
Human Development, 315 Wallace Hall (0416), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg,
VA 24061.
E-mail address: kaestle@vt.edu
1054-139X/09/$ see front matter Ó 2009 Society for Adolescent Medicine. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.02.010
Journal of Adolescent Health 45 (2009) 208–210
Page 1
Measures
Tobacco acquisition strategies. Respondents were asked:
(1) ‘during the past 30 days, how did you usually get your
own cigarettes?’ (2) ‘during the past 30 days, how did
you usually get your own cigars, cigarillos, or little cigars?’
and (3) during the past 30 days, how did you usually get your
own chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip?’ The resulting cate-
gories for each variable are:
I bought them in a store
I gave someone else money to buy them for me
I borrowed/bummed them from someone else
A person 18 years old or older gave them to me
I took them from a store or family member
I got them some other way
Lives with smoker
Respondents were asked to report whether anyone smokes
in their home other than themselves (dichotomous).
Demographics
Age (continuous), gender (male referent compared to
female) and race/ethnicity (non-Latino White referent
compared to Latino, Black, or other) were also examined.
Statistical analyses
To explore how gender predicts experiences in obtaining
cigarettes, cigars/cigarillos, and smokeless tobacco, the proc
glimmix procedure in SAS was used to account for the
complex sample design of the YTS and to model the categor-
ical outcomes through multilevel multinomial logistic regres-
sion. The three models each controlled for respondent’s
gender, age, race/ethnicity, and whether they lived with
a smoker.
Results
The mean age of all current tobacco users (N ¼ 426) was
14.9 (SD ¼ 0.09). The most common way to obtain cigarettes
was to give someone else money to buy them, the most
common way to obtain smokeless tobacco was to buy in
a store in person, and the most common way to get cigars/
cigarillos was to borrow/bum them from a friend. However,
over 1 in 10 adoles cent smokers usually got their cigarettes,
cigars/cigarillos, or smokeless tobacco from an adult in
a social situation (Table 1). Boys and girls used significantly
different strategies for obtaining tobacco products of all
types. Girls were significantly more likely than boys to get
cigarettes for free from a person 18 or older, take them
from a store or family member, or to borrow or bum ciga-
rettes from a friend (reference category: give someone money
to buy for them). Girls were also significantly more likely
than boys to borrow/bum cigars/cigarillos. For smokeless
tobacco, girls were significantly more likely than boys to
buy it in a store in person (Table 2).
Discussion
Results from this representative sample of Virginia youth
demonstrate that girls are significantly more likely to receive
cigarettes for free, particularly from adults. Therefore, current
intervention strategies focused on vendors and peers do not
reach an important source of girls’ cigarettes. Although
enforcement of retail restrictions will influence both
underage purchas ers and the peers who obtain cigarettes
through such friends, adult purchasers who give cigarettes
to minors are unaffected. It is critical to include adults who
may legally purchase the cigarettes and then give them to
girls in our prevention efforts. Further research is needed to
better understand factors that influence adults providing ciga-
rettes to youth in social situations.
Although few girls use other tobacco products, when they
do, their acquisition strategies may differ from boys. Girls
were more likely than boys to get cigars/cigarillos for free
through borrowing/bumming from friends. However, girls
were more likely than boys to buy smokeless tobacco prod-
ucts in person.
Table 1
Respondent characteristics and using each tobacco acquisition strategy
Respondent characteristics % All current tobacco
users (N ¼ 426)
Female 41.8
Black 18.5
Latino 6.3
Other Nonwhite race 4.9
Lived with a smoker 61.3
Cigarette source % Cigarette users (N ¼ 318)
I gave someone money to buy them for me 28.3
A person 18 or older gave them to me 13.2
I bought them in a store 11.6
I borrowed/bummed them 20.4
I took them from a store or family 8.2
Some other way 18.2
Smokeless tobacco source % Smokeless tobacco
users (N ¼ 130)
I gave someone money to buy them for me 21.5
A person 18 or older gave them to me 10.8
I bought them in a store 26.2
I borrowed/bummed them 20.8
I took them from a store or family 6.2
Some other way 14.6
Cigar/cigarillo source % Cigar/cigarillo
users (N ¼ 201)
I gave someone money to buy them for me 17.9
A person 18 or older gave them to me 12.9
I bought them in a store 14.9
I borrowed/bummed them 29.4
I took them from a store or family 10.5
Some other way 14.4
C.E. Kaestle / Journal of Adolescent Health 45 (2009) 208–210 209
Page 2
This cross-sectional exploratory study has several limita-
tions. Self-reports may also introduce recall error, and it is
possible that respondents might have interpreted questions in
different ways. However, the use of tobacco behavior self-
reports has generally been supported by the literature [9,10].
Longitudinal studies with larger sample sizes and more detailed
questions are needed to determine how the expansion ofadoles-
cent social circles to include young adult friends influences
access to cigarettes.
Acknowledgments
Support for this research was provided by the Virginia
Tobacco Settlement Foundation.
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Table 2
Risk ratios for girls compared to boys for using each tobacco acquisition strategy
Cigarettes (N ¼ 318) Smokeless tobacco (N ¼ 130) Cigars/cigarillos (N ¼ 201)
A person 18 or older gave them to me 2.33* 1.86 2.82
I bought them in a store 0.54 5.77* 1.70
I borrowed/bummed them 1.41* 3.51 4.68*
I took them from a store or family 1.71* 1.05 1.58
Some other way 0.91 1.03 3.61*
Note: Acquisition strategy reference category was ‘I gave someone else money to buy them for me.’ Models control for age, race, and ethnicity, and living with
a smoker in family.
* p < .05.
C.E. Kaestle / Journal of Adolescent Health 45 (2009) 208–210210
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