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Blunt smoking during emerging adulthood: Characterizing transitions in cannabis and cigar co-use among a diverse cohort in Texas.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize and compare transitions in blunt smoking behaviors among a diverse cohort of youth and young adults observed between Spring 2019 and Fall 2021.

METHODS: We analyzed n = 14,152 observations (i.e., completed surveys) provided by n = 2,610 youth and young adults over six (6) waves from Spring 2019 to Fall 2021 via the Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance (TATAMS) system. Participants were recruited in age-cohorts, reflecting 16.5 years (0.5), 18.5 years (0.6), and 20.1 years (0.8) of age at baseline. We applied a three-state Markov model to estimate blunt initiation (never → ever), onset (never → current), continuation (ever → current), and discontinuation (current → ever). First, we compared transitions in blunt smoking by race/ethnicity, with non-Hispanic (NH) Whites as the referent. Second, we stratified the Markov models by race/ethnicity to identify common and unique predictors of blunt transitions, including sex, age, alcohol use, depression, anxiety, and tobacco cigar smoking.

RESULTS: At baseline, 73% of participants had never smoked blunts, 15.3% had ever smoked blunts s, and 11.7% currently smoked blunts. NHB (HR: 2.15; 95% CI: 1.21-3.84) and Hispanic (HR: 1.72; 95% CI: 1.08-2.72) participants had significantly greater risk of blunt smoking initiation, relative to NHWs. Similarly, NHBs had great risk for continuation (HR: 1.65; 95% CI: 1.16-2.34) and lower risk of discontinuation (HR: 0.57; 95% CI: 0.42-0.77), relative to NHWs. Alcohol use predicted greater risk for onset among NHW (HR: 5.22; 95% CI: 1.40-19.45), NHB (HR: 3.14; 95% CI: 1.32-7.46), and Hispanic (HR: 2.99; 95% CI: 1.80-4.97) participants.

CONCLUSIONS: Blunt smoking initiation was most common among NHB and Hispanic youth and young adults while risk for sustained blunt smoking was higher in NHB youth and young adults. Research and interventions should investigate the link between alcohol use and elevated blunt smoking among young people.

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