, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 353-361

Adolescents' perceptions of the costs and benefits associated with cigarette smoking: Sex differences and peer influence

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This study explored the perceptions of young adolescents of the costs and benefits of cigarette smoking. These perceptions were examined as a function of the sex of the adolescent and peer smoking habits. The sample consisted of 155 White middle class male and female adolescents, aged 12 to 15. The results indicate that endorsement of particular costs and benefits was related to the respondent's sex and whether or not the respondent had friends who smoked. The girls seemed to view smoking as a sign of rebellion or autonomy, while the boys seemed to view smoking cigarettes as a social coping mechanism. The effect of having friends who smoke was always mediated by the sex of the adolescents. Boys who have friends who smoke have attitudes that appear more conducive to smoking than do boys with nonsmoking friends. This relationship did not hold for girls. The implications for smoking education and intervention are discussed.

This work was supported in part by the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Metropolitan Detroit as supported by Grant CA - 22453 from the National Cancer Institute, DHHS.