• Presentation

Reaching At-Risk Youth to Prevent Tobacco Use


Renaud, J. M., Hersey, J. C., & Ray, S. (2005, December). Reaching At-Risk Youth to Prevent Tobacco Use. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.


Problem: Youth who are high in "sensation seeking" may be a high risk for the initiation of smoking. This study investigates, in a longitudinal sample, the ways in which state anti-tobacco campaigns may help prevent smoking in this high risk group.

Methods: A 9-month longitudinal sample of 1,010 youth in a statewide telephone survey in Ohio assessed the relationships between sensation seeking and change the prevention of smoking. An index of sensation seeking included items such as "I like new and exciting experience, even if I have to break the rules," "I would like to explore strange places," and "I like to do frightening things." Analyses then compared those among the top one-third of the sensation-seeking composite to those among the bottom two-thirds of the composite. These results were replicated with a series of three repeated cross-sectional surveys of approximately 1,650 youth per wave.

Results: Sensation seeking was highly associated with increased risk of starting to smoking. Results revealed that those identified as high sensation-seekers at time 1 were more than twice as likely as those identified as lower sensation-seekers to rate specific stand TV ads at time 2 as "good" or "excellent," (OR=2.42.) Follow-up analyses will examine whether specific ad ratings influence tobacco use behavior among high sensation-seeking youth.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that it is possible to reach those at high-risk for tobacco use, and that future anti-tobacco youth campaigns should make a special effort to attempt to reach such youth.