Exposure to racial insults among youth in Jujuy, Argentina, was examined as a factor associated with smoking behavior.
Youth sampled from eighth-grade classes in 27 randomly selected middle schools completed annual surveys in the ninth and tenth grades. Demographics, race/ethnicity (Indigenous/Amazonian, Indigenous/Andean, Indigenous unspecified group, Mixed European-Indigenous, European), cigarette smoking, and other attitudinal and behavioral factors were measured. Exposure to racial insults, measured in the ninth grade, was modeled to predict cigarette smoking in the previous 30 days (defined as current) in the tenth grade conditional on ninth grade smoking.
Of the 3,122 respondents, 35.5% reported exposure to racial insults and 33.8% were current smokers. Factors associated with racial insults were being male, indigenous language spoken at home, ever and current smoking, smoking in a ceremonial context, exposure to second-hand smoke at home, number of friends who smoke, having low expectations for the future, low identification with conforming role models, high identification with defiant role models, and depressive symptoms. Reported exposure to racial insults increased the risk of current smoking in the 10th grade among Indigenous Amazonian respondents (OR = 3.8; 95% CI 1.4–10.4) and among the Indigenous-unspecified group (OR = 1.8; 95% CI 1.1–2.8), but not among European or Indigenous Andean youth.
Exposure to racial insults is commonplace among youth in Jujuy. Evidence of a longitudinal effect of ninth-grade racial insults on tenth-grade smoking rates provides support for an association of racial insults with smoking behavior.
Keywords: Discrimination, Tobacco use, Adolescents, Latin America, Indigenous