What Determines Adolescent Smoking and Why Do White Adolescents Smoke More? Evidence from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescents

Ming Wen, University of Utah
Heather VanDuker, University of Utah
Lenora Olson, University of Utah

Using the ADD Health, this study investigates factors at the individual, family, peer, school, and neighborhood levels that are important for adolescent cigarette daily smoking. We also explore mechanisms that potentially explain racial and ethnic disparities in adolescent smoking. We find that multi-level ecological modeling that takes various social contexts into account is useful and racial/ethnic differences are remarkable. White-Asian and White-Hispanic differences are mainly due to higher proportions of immigrants among Asians and Hispanics. White-Black difference, however, is not explainable by immigrant status. Traditional models of racial/ethnic differences in health do not apply for why white adolescents, being generally more resourceful, are more likely to engage in smoking as a deviant behavior. We find a set of mediating factors that jointly explain 30% of the Black-White difference. More theoretical and empirical work is needed to better understand this phenomenon.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course