Patterns of Alternative Tobacco Product Use Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Published in: Addictive Behaviors Volume 99 (December 2019), 106088. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106088

Posted on RAND.org on January 14, 2020

by Daniela Golinelli, Daniel Siconolfi, William G. Shadel, Rachana Seelam, Joan S. Tucker

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Access further information on this document at Addictive Behaviors Volume 99 (December 2019)

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Introduction

Identifying distinct patterns of tobacco product use can inform efforts to reduce poly-tobacco use among young people, but little is known regarding patterns of use among youth experiencing homelessness. This study identified patterns of using tobacco/nicotine products among youth experiencing homelessness, and assessed whether certain subgroups of youth were more likely than others to engage in specific patterns of use.

Methods

Data were collected from a probability sample of 469 homeless youth who used tobacco in the past month, recruited from 25 service and street sites in Los Angeles County. Participants reported on lifetime and past month use of natural cigarettes, cigars, little cigars/cigarillos, electronic nicotine delivery systems, hookah, and chewing tobacco. Latent class analysis was used to identify patterns of tobacco product use.

Results

We identified four main classes of use: traditional cigarettes smokers (34.7% of the sample), poly-tobacco experimenters (24.9%), current users of combustible products (natural cigarettes, cigars, little cigars/cigarillos; 27.1%), and current poly-tobacco users (13.1%). Youth who were male, slept outdoors, and screened positive for substance abuse disorder were more than twice as likely as their counterparts to be current poly-tobacco users relative to traditional cigarettes smokers.

Conclusions

Rates of poly-tobacco experimentation and current use among youth experiencing homelessness are high. This suggests that efforts to reduce the use of tobacco products in this population should focus on the combined use of these products, and further, that users with the greatest poly-use may have competing unmet needs such as substance use disorders and more severe homelessness.

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