Racial/ethnic differences in perceived smoking prevalence: Evidence from a national survey of teens

Kevin C. Davis, James M. Nonnemaker, Hosanna A. Asfaw, Donna M. Vallone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Prior studies show that perceived smoking prevalence is a significant predictor of smoking initiation. In this study, we examine racial/ethnic differences in perceived smoking prevalence and racial/ethnic differences in exposure to contextual factors associated with perceived smoking prevalence. We used cross-sectional time series data from the Legacy Media Tracking Surveys (LMTS), a national sample of 35,000 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States. Perceived smoking prevalence was the primary outcome variable, measured using an LMTS question: "Out of every 10 people your age, how many do you think smoke?" Multivariable models were estimated to assess the association between perceived smoking prevalence; race/ethnicity; and exposure to social contextual factors. Findings indicate that African American, Hispanic, and American Indian youth exhibit the highest rates of perceived smoking prevalence, while white and Asian youth exhibit the lowest. Minority youth are also disproportionately exposed to social contextual factors that are correlated with high perceived smoking prevalence. These findings suggest that disproportionate exposure to social contextual factors may partially explain why minority youth exhibit such high levels of perceived smoking prevalence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4152-4168
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Perceived smoking prevalence
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Smoking perceptions
  • Youth smoking prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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