Smoking and alcohol use have been posited as possible contributors to racial health disparities, despite higher smoking and alcohol use among non-Hispanic White youth and young adults compared to Blacks. A newly published study assessed variation in alcohol and cigarette use across two distinct points of the life course. Self-report alcohol and cigarette use were collected between age 15-17 and at mean age 50.
- White participants were more likely to drink regularly and be intoxicated in adolescence compared with Blacks.
- In mid-adulthood, Whites remained more likely to currently drink but among drinkers, less likely to binge drink.
- White participants were less likely to smoke in mid-adulthood but among smokers, were more likely to smoke ≥ ½ a pack per day.
The researchers concluded that Blacks were less likely to engage in drinking across the life course, but, among drinkers, more likely to binge drink in mid-adulthood. Blacks were more likely to smoke in mid-adulthood, but smoked infrequently compared with Whites.
Source: Pamplin et al. (2019). Racial differences in alcohol and tobacco use in adolescence and mid-adulthood in a community-based sample. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Sep 21. [Epub ahead of print]