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What Predicts Smoking Risk for Mexican-American Youth?

Conquest - Spring 2010

Two recent studies have revealed the influence that movies and susceptibility can have on smoking among Mexican-American youth.

Anna Wilkinson, Ph.D.

The first was a three-year study of 1,286 Mexican-American adolescents, who were ages 11-13 at the start. Researchers found that the percentage of new experimenters increased from about 5%, among those with little or no exposure, to nearly 30%, for those who saw up to 600 smoking scenes in movies.

In the second study, researchers examined several factors that increase the likelihood of experimenting with cigarettes. They found that those deemed susceptible to trying cigarettes at the start of the study were over two times more likely to experiment by the end of the study than those who were not considered susceptible.

“Susceptibility to smoking is a measurable characteristic that predicts the transition to experimentation and smoking. Our results suggest that prevention efforts tailored to an adolescent’s susceptibility status may be more effective among Mexican-American youth,” says senior author Anna Wilkinson, Ph.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Epidemiology.

Only 15% of those committed to never smoking at the start of a longitudinal study experimented with cigarettes over three years of follow-up. Over the same time, 45% of those who were deemed susceptible at first went on to experiment.

Both studies were reported in the December 2009 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center