Date of Award

Winter 2008

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Heather A Turner


The factors that contribute to smoking initiation among adolescents are poorly understood. The current approaches to smoking prevention may have achieved their maximum potential as evidenced by a stalling in the decline in smoking rates. To date, approaches to smoking prevention based on social and individual factors have previously met with limited success. A promising new approach will be to examine the interaction between social and individual factors and the effects of their interaction on smoking initiation. Parental and peer smoking behaviors are well-known risk factors for smoking initiation. Several theoretical models suggest that perceptual or interpretative processes may moderate the influence of factors such as these on the smoking initiation process. This study looks at age (as a proxy for adolescent development), depression and school performance as potential moderators of the impact of parental or peer smoking. This study uses a large longitudinal sample (The Teenage Attitudes and Practices Surveys -- 1989 and 1993) to explore for these relationships. Results show very limited support for the impact of potential moderated relationships, with only one of the six hypothesized interactions being supported (peer smoking and school performance). This would suggest that theoretical models which include concepts of perceptual or interpretative processes as moderating influences need to continue to evaluate their validity. Another finding of the study is a significant main effect of school performance on smoking initiation --a relationship which has not been previously reported in a national longitudinal sample. This study also found support for depression as an antecedent to smoking initiation -- a relationship whose causal direction continues to be controversial. Continued exploration of the complex relationships between these social and individual factors may allow for the development of more effective evidence-based smoking prevention programs.