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June 2003

Characteristics of African American Teenage Smokers Who Request Cessation Treatment: Implications for Addressing Health Disparities

Author Affiliations

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program, Teen Tobacco Addiction Treatment Research Clinic, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Md (Drs Moolchan, Robinson, and Cadet); and the Department of Pharmacology, Pitié-Salpêtrière Medical School, Paris, France (Dr Berlin).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157(6):533-538. doi:10.1001/archpedi.157.6.533

Background  Ethnoracial disparities in both tobacco-related mortality and treatment outcome for smoking cessation have been reported among adults, but there is a dearth of information on ethnoracial differences among adolescent smokers.

Objective  To compare smoking-related characteristics in African American and non–African American teenaged applicants for a smoking cessation trial.

Participants, Design, and Setting  Four hundred thirty-two teenaged smokers (mean [SD] age, 15.6 [1.5] years; 61.8%, female; 31.9%, African American) responded via telephone to various media advertisements. Self-reported sociodemographic, smoking-related, and clinical data were obtained to determine preeligibility for trial participation.

Main Outcome Measures  The number of cigarettes smoked per day, Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) score, motivation to quit, self-reported health problems, and medication use.

Results  Compared with non–African Americans, African Americans had lower FTND scores (mean [SD] score, 5.31 [2.24] vs 6.18 [2.18]; P<.01), and smoked fewer cigarettes per day (mean [SD] number of cigarettes, 12.6 [8.3] vs 15.4 [7.5] cigarettes/d; P<.04). The FTND scores were similar in both groups when adjusted for the number of cigarettes smoked per day. African American and non–African American teenagers reported similar motivation to quit (mean [SD] score, 8.64 [1.68] vs 8.53 [1.59], respectively). No difference was found in frequency of physical health problems (eg, asthma), diagnosed psychiatric conditions, or prescribed psychiatric medication although fewer African American teenaged smokers took medication for physical problems (21.2% vs 36.7%).

Conclusions  Cessation treatment interventions designed for African American youths should include lower FTND-defined levels, or the use of other instruments that do not focus on the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Our findings also highlight the importance of ethnocultural issues in treatment research that aims to address health disparities.