Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Rosalie Corona


Tobacco use and the associated health risks are a major public health concern. Research suggests that parents’ own tobacco use, caregiver-adolescent antismoking communication, and parenting practices (e.g., prompting, parental monitoring) may work to influence adolescents’ tobacco-related attitudes and behavioral outcomes (e.g., refusal efficacy, intentions to use and actual use). Although historically African American adolescents have exhibited lower rates of tobacco use than their racial/ethnic counterparts, there is growing evidence to suggest that this may be changing because of increased use of tobacco products and/or underreporting of the use of alternative tobacco products or ATPs (e.g., cigars, cigarillos), among this population. The present study recruited a community-based sample of 101 urban African American caregivers that smoke (M = 41.1/SD = 9.9), and their adolescents between the ages of 12-17 (M = 14.4/SD = 1.9) to examine how caregiver tobacco-related messages (both verbal and non-verbal) shape adolescents’ tobacco attitudes, and behaviors. Dyads completed paper-pencil surveys separately and were compensated for their time and effort. A majority of the caregivers were single and living in low-income and public housing communities. Results from the analyses revealed high rates of adolescent tobacco use (lifetime) of both cigarettes and alternative tobacco products, and prompting (e.g., caregivers’ request that adolescents retrieve, buy, or smoke tobacco products with them). The findings also showed that all of the caregiver variables including: prompting, monitoring, as well as caregiver antismoking messages together impacted adolescents’ tobacco-related outcomes including their attitudes about tobacco, refusal efficacy and their intentions to use (at six months and adulthood), and their actual use.

These findings underscore the need for more tobacco education that includes not only adolescents, but also parents, and other important caregivers (e.g., extended kin/family members) that helps increases knowledge surrounding the dangers of parental prompting, the importance of parental monitoring of youths whereabouts and peers, as well as parent-adolescent antismoking communication in reducing the prevalence of adolescent smoking/tobacco use (including the use of ATPs). This study also highlights the need for tobacco control and policies that limit adolescents’ exposure and access to tobacco products particularly among African Americans living in disadvantaged neighborhoods.


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