Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Steven Danish


The majority of adult smoking begins during adolescence, and in order for prevention programs to be optimally effective it is critical to understand the influences of smoking initiation during this developmental period. However, little research has focused on how environmental factors, such as parent and peer smoking. influence smoking initiation exclusively within a rural population. The current study surveyed students from 23 middle schools in rural Virginia and New York State at the end of the sixth grade and then one-year later at the end of the seventh grade. Logistic regressions were used to predict changes in levels of adolescent smoking from factors such as parent smoking, peer smoking, sibling smoking, self-efficacy to refuse cigarettes, and whether the adolescent resided in a tobacco-growing area.

Results from this study indicated that having a best friend who smokes was more important for trying smoking, whereas the number of friends who smoke was more important for experimental and higher levels of smoking. Two variables, having a mother who smokes and an adolescent’s self-efficacy to refuse cigarettes, were found to be a consistent influence across all stages of smoking behavior. Ethnicity had a slightly different impact on smoking behavior than demonstrated in previous research. African Americans were actually at a higher risk for trying smoking than Caucasians, and there were no differences for ethnicity among those who moved to experimental or higher levels of smoking. In addition, living in a tobacco-growing county was significantly related to adolescents trying smoking, but was not related to adolescents at this age moving to experimental or higher levels of smoking. The findings from this study suggest that there are unique aspects to the smoking behavior of rural adolescents, and suggestions for prevention are made.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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