Canada: Cigarette Use Among Native Canadian Youth in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1995

In early October 1995 twelve young researchers conducted a pilot inquiry into cigarette use among 12-24 year-old Native Canadians living in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This study was funded by the Canadian Federal Ministry of Health and coordinated by the Nechi Institute on Alcohol and Drug Education, with technical support from CIETcanada. The study was in support of efforts to dissuade First Nations youth from taking up cigarette smoking or helping them to quit if they are already addicted.
Out of 622 youth who participated, half were daily smokers of an average of eight cigarettes; 75% of the youth smoked occasionally. Their average age of uptake was 12 years. A youth whose parents disapproved of young people smoking was five times less likely to be a smoker. Those who only have a few friends who smoked were three times more resistant to pressure to smoke than those who had many friends who smoked. Youth who did not drink alcohol were three times less likely to take up smoking. Focus group discussions suggested strategies to reach the Native youth, including peer-to-peer programmes, locally specific comic books and CD ROMs, increase in public health education in schools and role-modeling of parents and teachers.