Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve: results from the Youth Smoking Survey

Elton-Marshall, Tara; Leatherdale, Scott T.; Burkhalter, Robin
May 2011
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;5/17/2011, Vol. 183 Issue 8, p913
Academic Journal
Background: Despite the high prevalence of smoking among Aboriginal youth, there is a paucity of research related to tobacco use and other risk behaviours among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve in Canada. We used data from the national Youth Smoking Survey to characterize non-traditional tobacco use, exposure to second-hand smoke, and alcohol and drug use among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve. We examined whether these youth were at increased health risk compared with non-Aboriginal youth. Methods: We examined cigarette smoking behaviour, use of other tobacco products, use of alcohol and other drugs, and exposure to second-hand smoke among 2620 Aboriginal youth living off-reserve and 26 223 non-Aboriginal youth in grades 9 to 12 who participated in the 2008/09 Youth Smoking Survey. Results: The prevalence of current smoking among the Aboriginal youth was more than double that among non-Aboriginal youth (24.9% v. 10.4%). Aboriginal youth also had a higher prevalence of regular exposure to second-hand smoke at home (37.3% v. 19.7%) and in cars (51.0% v. 30.3%). Aboriginal youth were more likely than non-Aboriginal youth to be current smokers, to be regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, to have tried marijuana and other illicit drugs, and to engage in binge drinking. They were less likely than non- Aboriginal youth to have tried to quit smoking. Interpretation: Current national estimates of smoking, and alcohol and illicit drug use among youth underestimate the prevalence of these behaviours among Aboriginal youth living off-reserve. Our findings highlight the need for culturally appropriate prevention and cessation policies and programs for this at-risk population.


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