Cigarette-Smoking Trajectories of Monoracial and Biracial Blacks: Testing the Intermediate Hypothesis

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Abstract

Research on the cigarette-smoking patterns of biracial adolescents and young adults is severely limited. In this study, we tested the intermediate biracial substance-use hypothesis, which suggests that the prevalence of substance use among biracial individuals falls intermediate to their monoracial counterparts. We examined cigarette-smoking trajectories of a de-aggregated sample of biracial Black adolescents and young adults. We used longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health (Add Health; Harris et al., 2009). Our sample (N = 9,421) included 4 monoracial groups (Black, White, Hispanic, and American Indian [AI]) and 3 biracial groups (Black–AI, Black–Hispanic, and Black–White). Study hypotheses were tested using latent growth-curve modeling. We found some support for the intermediate biracial substance-use hypothesis for 2 of 3 biracial groups (Black–American Indian, Black–Hispanic) and 2 of 4 cigarette-use outcomes (lifetime cigarette use, number of cigarettes smoked during past month for regular smokers). The cigarette-use trajectories of biracial Blacks were significantly different from only 1 corresponding monoracial group. Black–AIs and Black Hispanics engage in lifetime cigarette use at comparable rates to monoracial Blacks. Black–Hispanic regular smokers’ rate of cigarette smoking is comparable to the higher rates of Hispanics and not to the lower rates of Blacks. Knowledge of the origins, developmental course, and consequences of tobacco use among the biracial population may lead to effective intervention programs and policies for this group.

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