Factors associated with current smoking among off-reserve First Nations and Métis youth: Results from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey
Authors: Christopher J. Ryan, Scott Leatherdale, and Martin Cooke
First Nations and Métis, two of Canada’s constitutionally recognized Indigenous groups, suffer from poorer overall health than non-Indigenous Canadians. Current smoking, a known predictor of chronic health conditions, is close to twice as prevalent among Indigenous youth as it is among non-Indigenous Canadian youth. However, little population-level research has examined the correlates of current smoking among this population. Guided by a health framework centered on Indigenous-specific determinants, we used data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey to examine the correlates of current smoking among First Nations and Métis youth aged 15-17 years living outside of First Nations reserves. Using binary logistic regression, we investigated how culturally specific factors, namely knowledge of an Indigenous language, participation in traditional activities, and family members’ attendance at residential schools, were correlated with current smoking. We also considered demographic, geographic, socioeconomic and health-related correlates. Overall, an estimated 20.6% of First Nations and Métis youth reported current smoking. We found no significant associations between culturally specific activities and current smoking in the multivariate analyses, although those who spoke an Indigenous language were more likely to smoke. Those who participated in sports more often were less likely to smoke, and respondents who reported heavy drinking and who were from families with lower income were more likely to smoke. Gender, body mass index, urban/rural geography and regional geography, and mother’s highest level of education were not significantly correlated with smoking. The results of our study support prior research that has found a disturbingly high prevalence of current smoking among Indigenous youth, compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Our results highlight the importance of considering sports participation, co-occurring health-risk behaviours and socioeconomic factors when developing interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking among First Nations and Métis youth.
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