Racial differences in trajectories of cigarette use

Helene R. White, Daniel Nagin, Elaine Replogle, Magda Stouthamer-Loeber

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74 Scopus citations


This study examined racial differences in developmental trajectories of cigarette smoking from childhood into young adulthood. We used data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a prospective, longitudinal study of high-risk males. We developed trajectories of cigarette smoking from age 10 through age 25. Models were estimated separately for African-Americans (N = 562) and Whites (N = 421) because preliminary analyses indicated that there were significant racial differences in onset, levels and patterns of cigarette use. Three trajectory groups emerged for both races: nonsmokers, light/occasional smokers and heavy/regular smokers. Significantly more Whites were in the heavy/regular smoker group and more African-Americans were in the nonsmoker group. White compared to African-American heavy/regular smokers began smoking earlier and reached higher mean quantities of cigarettes per day. In addition, there were racial differences in the timing and rapidity of the development of regular smoking over time. Race remained a significant predictor of cigarette use even after controls for socioeconomic status. Overall, the results indicate that developmental trends in smoking differ by race and that cigarette smoking remains more prevalent and more frequent for White than African-American males, at least through young adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-227
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 7 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


  • Cigarettes
  • Race
  • Tobacco
  • Trajectories

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    White, H. R., Nagin, D., Replogle, E., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (2004). Racial differences in trajectories of cigarette use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 76(3), 219-227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2004.05.004