Objectives. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and contributes to increased incidence, morbidity and mortality from cancer, heart disease, stroke, complications of pregnancy and respiratory illness. Tobacco use rates are highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of tobacco use among youth residing in rural western Alaska. Study design. Data were analysed from the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) administered to a regional sample of adolescents attending school in western Alaska. Methods. Data were analysed from 260 middle school (52% female, 87% Alaska Native) and 258 high school (48% female, 93% Alaska Native) students. Results. Among middle school students, 39% reported current use of ST, 24% reported cigarette smoking and 50% reported current use of any tobacco product. On multivariate analysis, independent correlates of current use of any tobacco were Alaska Native ethnicity (p=0.002) and ever use of marijuana (p<0.001). Among high school students, 38% reported current ST use, 43% reported cigarette smoking and 60% reported current use of any tobacco product. Independent correlates of current use of any tobacco were increasing age (p=0.007), ever use of marijuana (p<0.001), current use of marijuana (p=0.005) and reporting a suicide attempt within the past 12 months (p=0.003). No significant gender differences on tobacco use emerged for middle or high school students. Conclusions. This study documents the high tobacco use rates among youth residing in western Alaska, with over half of the adolescents reporting tobacco use. Developing interventions to promote tobacco use prevention and cessation is an essential step towards reducing tobacco-related health disparities in this rural population. Expanded efforts are needed to address tobacco use among youth residing in this region of Alaska.
- Alaska native