Gender differences in the association between perceived discrimination and adolescent smoking

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53 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined associations between perceived racial/ethnic discrimination, gender, and cigarette smoking among adolescents. Methods. We examined data on Black and Latino adolescents aged 12 to 19 years who participated in the Moving to Opportunity study (N=2561). Perceived discrimination was assessed using survey items asking about unfair treatment because of race/ethnicity in the prior 6 months. We used logistic regression to investigate associations between discrimination and smoking, stratified by gender and controlling for covariates. Results. One fourth of adolescents reported that discrimination had occurred in at least 1 location. Discrimination was associated with increased odds of smoking among boys (odds ratio [OR] = 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2, 3.0) and decreased odds among girls (OR = 0.6; 95% CI = 0.3, 1.1). Discrimination at school or work contributed to associations for girls (OR = 0.3; 95% CI = 0.1, 0.9), and discrimination at shops (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.1, 3.8) and by police (OR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.2, 3.4) contributed to associations for boys. Conclusions. Associations between discrimination and smoking differ by gender. Girls' decreased smoking in higher-discrimination settings may be a result of protective factors associated with where they spend time. Boys' increased smoking in higher-discrimination settings may reflect increased stress from gender-specific targeting by police and businesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-516
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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