Canada: First Nations Youth Inquiry into Tobacco Use, 1996

WUNSKA (The National Aboriginal Social Work and Social Services Education Network) and CIETcanada carried out an inquiry into tobacco abuse among Native Canadian youth on-Reserve between November 1995 and March 1996. In addition to investigating tobacco use, the study aimed to build First Nation community capacities to undertake, analyze and interpret the results of scientific research of their own problems.
A total of 4,090 youth (aged ten to 14 years) from 96 communities responded to the questionnaire. In addition, there were 189 youth Talking Circles, each composed of six to ten youth, 539 key informant interviews, and separate interviews with 338 Elders. Some 30% of the youth surveyed acknowledged being smokers. Roughly one in ten respondents was a daily smoker. The proportion of smokers increases gradually from the age of ten to 14 years and is higher among females than males in almost all age groups: overall, a male youth is 40% more resistant to smoking than a female. Four out of five young smokers want to quit. Their preferred method of giving up was related to peers: staying away from smokers and having their friends quit along with them. Information from Elders, key informants, and the youth Talking Circles all confirm the dominant importance of peer pressure. The most common suggestion for action was to develop programmes to help youth cope with peer pressure. All segments of the survey suggested increased sport, recreational activities and facilities for youth as alternatives to unhealthy behaviour.