The role of social networks and media receptivity in predicting age of smoking initiation: a proportional hazards model of risk and protective factors

Addict Behav. 1999 May-Jun;24(3):371-81. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(98)00102-6.


The increasing prevalence of adolescent smoking demonstrates the need to identify factors associated with early smoking initiation. Previous studies have shown that smoking by social network members and receptivity to pro-tobacco marketing are associated with smoking among adolescents. It is not clear, however, whether these variables also are associated with the age of smoking initiation. Using data from 10,030 California adolescents, this study identified significant correlates of age of smoking initiation using bivariate methods and a multivariate proportional hazards model. Age of smoking initiation was earlier among those adolescents whose friends, siblings, or parents were smokers, and among those adolescents who had a favorite tobacco advertisement, had received tobacco promotional items, or would be willing to use tobacco promotional items. Results suggest that the smoking behavior of social network members and pro-tobacco media influences are important determinants of age of smoking initiation. Because early smoking initiation is associated with higher levels of addiction in adulthood, tobacco control programs should attempt to counter these influences.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / trends*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Social Support*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control*