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Peer crowd affiliation as a segmentation tool for young adult tobacco use
  1. Nadra E Lisha1,
  2. Jeffrey W Jordan2,
  3. Pamela M Ling1
  1. 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2Rescue, San Diego, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pamela M Ling, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco, 530 Parnassus, Ste 366, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390, USA; pamela.ling{at}


Background In California, young adult tobacco prevention is of prime importance; 63% of smokers start by the age of 18 years, and 97% start by the age of 26 years. We examined social affiliation with ‘peer crowd’ (eg, Hipsters) as an innovative way to identify high-risk tobacco users.

Methods Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2014 (N=3368) among young adult bar patrons in 3 California cities. We examined use rates of five products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookah, cigars and smokeless tobacco) by five race/ethnicity categories. Peer crowd affiliation was scored based on respondents' selecting pictures of young adults representing those most and least likely to be in their friend group. Respondents were classified into categories based on the highest score; the peer crowd score was also examined as a continuous predictor. Logistic regression models with each tobacco product as the outcome tested the unique contribution of peer crowd affiliation, controlling for race/ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation and city.

Results Respondents affiliating with Hip Hop and Hipster peer crowds reported significantly higher rates of tobacco use. As a categorical predictor, peer crowd was related to tobacco use, independent of associations with race/ethnicity. As a continuous predictor, Hip Hop peer crowd affiliation was also associated with tobacco use, and Young Professional affiliation was negatively associated, independent of demographic factors.

Conclusions Tobacco product use is not the same across racial/ethnic groups or peer crowds, and peer crowd predicts tobacco use independent of race/ethnicity. Antitobacco interventions targeting peer crowds may be an effective way to reach young adult tobacco users.

Trial registration number NCT01686178, Pre-results.

  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Priority/special populations
  • Social marketing

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