Mental health problems in emerging adulthood are linked to tobacco and cannabis use, but whether race and ethnicity modifies these associations is unclear.
We used data from wave 4 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study (youth n = 6898, young adult n = 10,304) to conduct latent class analysis (LCA) of six past 30-day tobacco and cannabis use indicators (i.e., cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), cigars, blunts, cannabis vaping, other cannabis). We estimated associations between past 30-day internalizing and externalizing (i.e., low (referent), moderate, high) problems and latent classes of tobacco/cannabis use (vs. never/former use) using adjusted multinomial logistic regression. We explored whether associations varied by race and ethnicity through stratification.
We identified four exclusive use latent classes and two dual/poly use latent classes for both youth and young adult samples. Race/ethnicity-stratified models identified associations between internalizing/externalizing problems and most use classes for Hispanic and non-Hispanic White youth/young adults, with mixed results for non-Hispanic Black youth/young adults. For example, Hispanic (OR: 2.50, 95% CI: 1.09–5.74) and non-Hispanic White (OR: 1.90, 95% CI: 1.18–3.06) youth with high internalizing problems had higher odds of ENDS + cannabis vaping. Externalizing problems were not associated with use among non-Hispanic Black youth while internalizing problems were not associated with use among non-Hispanic Black young adults.
We observed racial/ethnic variation in mental health problems and tobacco and cannabis use. Understanding mental health problem and tobacco product and cannabis use comorbidity may better inform culturally relevant interventions aimed to prevent and reduce use.