Almost half of the 1.2 million American Indian and Alaska Native youths in the country smoke cigarettes, reported Assistant Professor ManSoo Yu of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Social Work in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. And youth who identified as American Indian or Alaska Native claim the highest lifetime smoking rate of all racial groups, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
But a new University of Missouri study reveals that teaching youth refusal skills may be the key to combat smoking influences.
“Smoking and quitting behaviors are heavily influenced by factors in the immediate environment, including family, peers and school,” Yu said. “Particularly, AI/AN youths have more opportunities for smoking than non-AI/AN youths because tobacco use is common at traditional ceremonies and events related to their cultures. It is difficult for these youths to refuse tobacco products from family members and friends who smoke or view refusal as disrespect.”
Yu’s study examined self-reported responses from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which revealed that family members’ smoking and age were indicative of an individual’s tobacco use. “School truancy, family members’ smoking and heightened receptivity to tobacco marketing predicted the use of multiple tobacco products,” Yu wrote.
You determined that teaching youth to refuse tobacco period was the way to prevent them from becoming life-long smokers. “Tobacco control strategies should include group-based programs that provide skills and training for responding to family members’ and friends’ smoking,” Yu recommended.