SUMMARY: Substance use of alcohol and cigarettes among Asian youth poses a significant public health challenge. In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 7.1% of Asian American adolescents between the ages 12-17 reported having used alcohol in the past month in the United States. Additionally in the city’s Chinatown, 13%, 35%, 39% for 8th, 10th and 12th grade respectively reported having used alcohol in the past 30 days according to the 2012 Illinois Youth Survey. Early onset drinking increases the risk for unintentional physical harm, unprotected sex, physical violence, educational failure, and possible interference with both physiological and brain growth and development.
For smoking behaviors among youth, access to cigarettes poses an important risk factor. According to the 2010 Illinois Youth Survey for Chinatown and surrounding neighborhoods of Armour Square and Bridgeport, 82% of 12th grade students from the target community reported that it would be very easy to obtain cigarettes, compared to 75% among 12th graders city-wide. Family behaviors and attitudes toward smoking, and parental lack of guidance and setting of rules around cigarette use increase risk for smoking among adolescents. Data collected between 2006-2008 by the Chicago Asian Community Surveys (CACS) Project, a research initiative led by the Asian Health Coalition, revealed that 31% of the adult males in Chinatown smoke. This is above Chicago’s current rate of 18%, and the national smoking rate of 18.1%. Asians are the fastest growing racial group in the United States so the health of these adolescents is an increasing concern.
Substance use of alcohol and tobacco among Asian American youth poses a significant public health challenge. Asians are the fastest growing racial group in the United States so the health of these adolescents is an increasing concern.