Anti-tobacco socialization in homes of African-American and white parents, and smoking and nonsmoking parents

J Adolesc Health. 1999 May;24(5):329-39. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(98)00117-7.


Purpose: To examine parental perceptions and behaviors with regard to teen smoking, comparing African-American and white parents, and those who did and did not smoke.

Methods: Focus groups consisting of African-American and white parents who smoked provided initial in-depth information. A computer-assisted telephone survey of a biracial sample of 311 parents of children ages 8 to 17 years provided more generalizable information regarding parental beliefs and behaviors.

Results: Nearly 50% of households either allowed teen smoking, had no ground rules, or had set restrictive rules but never communicated them to the children. Compared to white parents, African-American parents felt more empowered to affect their children's behaviors and were more likely to actively participate in anti-tobacco socialization within the home (all p values < 0.01). Among the African-American parents, 98% reported 18 years or older to be an appropriate age for teens to make up their own minds about using tobacco, whereas 26% of white parents thought 16 years to be an appropriate age (p < 0.001). Parents who smoked reported more frequent rule-making than those who did not smoke (p = 0.02), but were more likely to believe that childhood tobacco use is inevitable (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: Many parents are not engaged in antitobacco socialization in the home. Differences in the degree of parental participation may contribute to the variance in smoking prevalence between African-American and white children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Adult
  • African Americans* / psychology
  • African Americans* / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude to Health* / ethnology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Family Health / ethnology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Parenting* / ethnology
  • Parenting* / psychology
  • Parents / psychology
  • Self Efficacy
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Socialization
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Whites* / psychology
  • Whites* / statistics & numerical data