Reasons for Polytobacco Use among Young Adults: Scale Development and Validation
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Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University
Emory University
Battelle Research Institute
Submission date: 2016-05-24
Final revision date: 2016-06-24
Acceptance date: 2016-07-15
Publication date: 2016-07-20
Corresponding author
Carla J. Berg   

Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road NE, 30322 Atlanta, United States
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2016;2(July):69
Limited research has examined reasons for polytobacco use, an increasing public health problem, particularly among young adults. We examined reasons for polytobacco use among users of more than one tobacco product in the past 4 months enrolled in an ongoing six-wave longitudinal study of 3,418 students aged 18-25 from seven US colleges and universities.

An expert panel generated items related to reasons for polytobacco use, included in Wave 3 (administered in Summer 2015). Participants reporting use of more than one tobacco product in the past four months (n=540) were asked to complete the Reasons for Polytobacco Use scale and measures related to tobacco/nicotine use/dependence, use motives, perceptions of tobacco, parental/friend use, other substance use, and mental health. We conducted a factor analysis and then examined convergent and discriminant validity for the derived factors.

Our sample was an average age of 20.40 (SD=1.84), 48.0% male, and 21.9% Black. Four factors were identified: Instrumentality, Social Context, Displacement, and Experimentation. Instrumentality was the only factor associated with little cigar/cigarillo and marijuana use. Displacement and Social Context showed similar associations; however, Social Context was associated with having friends who used tobacco while Displacement was not. Experimentation was associated with greater perceived addictiveness and harm of using tobacco products as well as greater perceived social acceptability of tobacco use.

Each of the four factors identified demonstrated unique convergent and discriminant validity. The use of this scale to characterize polytobacco using young adults may help inform and target cessation or prevention interventions.

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