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Adolescent Intentions and Willingness to Smoke Cigarettes: Evaluation of a Dual Process Model with Black, Latino, and White Youth


Objective: The aim of the current study was to test a modified dual-process model examining how willingness and intentions to smoke predicted initiation of cigarette smoking from early to mid-adolescence, and to assess if this model applied across gender and three racial/ethnic groups.

Methods: Data were from 4,073 adolescents (Grade 7; ages 12-13) in the Healthy Passages study, a longitudinal cohort study examining youth from urban areas of Alabama, California, and Texas. Participants completed a revised version of the Tanner scale, the Self-Perception Profile – Global Self-Worth scale, the Social Skills Rating System Self-Control Subscale, and questions regarding parental monitoring, perceived peer smoking, availability of cigarettes, and future smoking intentions and willingness; participants were assessed three years later (Grade 10, M age = 15.59) and reported on cigarette smoking initiation.

Results: Both intentions and willingness to smoke reported at Grade 7 predicted cigarette smoking initiation by Grade 10. Parent smoking, cigarette availability, and peer smoking were associated with smoking intentions and willingness and predicted initiation. Multiple group analyses by gender and race/ethnicity showed model differences by race/ethnicity, where both intentions and willingness were predictive of smoking initiation for only Black and male adolescents.

Conclusions: Intentions and willingness appear to play an important role in whether an adolescent will try cigarettes, but this does not apply universally across gender and race/ethnicity. These findings demonstrate the utility of dual-process models in examining influences on cigarette smoking initiation among diverse adolescent samples. Results from this study may have implications for interventions designed to prevent tobacco use, especially cigarette smoking, among diverse youth.

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