“hookah” by Ksenia M is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Which Group Is at Highest Risk for Tobacco Use Onset? Youth or Young Adults?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“hookah” by Ksenia M is licensed under CC BY 2.0Cheryl L. Perry, Ph.D.
Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
The Rockwell Distinguished Chair in Society and Health
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)
School of Public Health, Austin, Texas

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There have been large changes in the social environment over the past 10 years that have affected tobacco use among youth and young adults. These include social media, e-cigarettes, and new regulations aimed at preventing use among youth.

Historically, nearly all onset of tobacco use, particularly cigarettes, occurred prior to high school graduation by age 18. Some recent national cross-sectional data suggested that onset might be occurring among young adults.

We decided to explore, with national and Texas data, whether onset of tobacco use was more likely to occur among young adults.

We did this by analyzing data from 3 studies over one year.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Contrary to decades of prior research, young adults (18-24) are now more likely to begin to use tobacco than youth (<18), including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah. This relationship was found in all of our comparisons. This means that young adults are at greater risk to initiate all kinds of tobacco products, and become addicted to these products. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: First, we need to know whether all young adults are at greater risk of starting to use tobacco, or whether this is primarily among sub-groups, such as males, or particular racial/ethnic groups. Second, we need to follow youth and young adults for more than one year to see whether onset turns into long-term use, and if one product is more addictive than other products. Third, we need to find out if tobacco use that is started in young adulthood maintains into adulthood (>30 years old). Finally, we need to know why this shift is occurring.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Young adults have generally not been included in prevention efforts. We need to begin to think of programs, policies, and communication messages to dissuade young adults from beginning to use tobacco products.


Youth or Young Adults: Which Group Is at Highest Risk for Tobacco Use Onset?
Perry, Cheryl L. et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.04.011

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