Data indicate that while smoking prevalence was decreasing for all other age groups in the mid 1990s, smoking prevalence increased for young adults and remains among the highest of all age groups. Moreover, young adults without a college degree smoke at twice the rate of their college-educated counterparts. Thus, tobacco use is likely to remain the number one cause of premature death and disability into the next generation of young adult smokers. Given their high mobility rate and the sizeable proportion attending college, there has not been an effective mechanism by which to sample young adults for tobacco surveillance. However, wireless substitution, which is creating a challenge for traditional random-digit-dialed surveys that generate a sample of landline household telephone numbers, may actually minimize or even eliminate prior methodological issues in research related to young adults. As of 2008, cell phone ownership approached 90 percent among young adults. Little research exists on strategies to enhance the inclusion of young adults in tobacco surveillance. The proposed research responds to NIH PAR-08-212: Methodology and Measurement in the Behavioral and Social Sciences and describes a plan to improve the inclusion of young adults in tobacco control surveillance and research via the development and implementation of a new innovative sample design specific to this population. Accordingly, we will: 1) develop and implement an innovative sample design to reach young adults and generate nationally representative tobacco control data for this underrepresented group, 2) examine and compare the viability of our sampling approach with traditional methods such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, a state level RDD survey;the National Health Interview Survey, which utilizes an area probability sample;and the Harvard College Alcohol Survey, a college-based sample, 3) examine the stability of a cell phone RDD sampling approach over time by administering two waves of data collection, and 4) update the tobacco control knowledge base on young adults by analyzing our tobacco-specific survey data with respect to the use of other tobacco products, cessation of tobacco, attitudes towards tobacco control policies, and participation in tobacco industry marketing practices. The significance of this proposed research is its potential to improve the quality and scientific power of data collected on tobacco use behavior among young adults, which is critical to informing tobacco control programs and policies.

Public Health Relevance

Smoking prevalence among young adults remains among the highest of all age groups. However, research and surveillance activities face many challenges in reaching this diverse and highly mobile population group. The rapid growth of wireless substitution in many households introduces significant problems for traditional telephone surveys that rely on sampling landline telephone numbers but may actually minimize prior challenges to sampling young adults. The proposed research on cell phone sampling will improve the quality and scientific power of data collected on tobacco use behavior among young adults and helps to inform tobacco control programs and policies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-K (51))
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Hartman, Anne
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University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ
Schools of Public Health
New Brunswick
United States
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