How Connectedness Contributes to Experimental Smoking Among Rural Youth: Developmental and Ecological Analyses
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The influences of peer, sibling, and parents’ smoking on adolescents’ initiation of tobacco use have been explained as a function of peer pressure, genetics, and social learning processes, but rarely in combination or with assessments of the quality of these relationships. This study examined the additional contributions of connectedness to friends, siblings, parents, and teachers beyond the effects of friend, sibling, and parental smoking using logistic regression analyses with a cross-sectional middle and high school sample of 303 rural adolescents. Friends’ and siblings’ smoking, and connectedness to friends, were the strongest predictors of experimental smoking. Parental smoking and connectedness to parents and to teachers were significant predictors of experimental smoking when considered independently, but not after accounting for friend and sibling factors. Connectedness to parents and teachers decreased the odds of experimental smoking, while connectedness to friends increased the odds.
Editors’ Strategic Implications: This strategy of assessing connectedness to–and smoking behaviors of—friends, siblings, teachers, and parents shows promise in predicting teens’ cigarette smoking choices. The finding that the negative effects of unconventional connectedness and smoking by friends and siblings outweigh positive effects of connectedness to adults awaits replication with different samples and measures.
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