The analysis makes use of a panel survey of 11-15-year olds containing their own responses to questions on smoking, smoking behaviour, and psychological well-being, along with information obtained from parents on household composition, income and parental education. The panel covers four waves, enabling comparison of smoking behaviour, attitudes and psychological states at the start and end of the period. The data show that a significant part of adolescent smoking can be considered "experimental". It does not necessarily result in subsequent adoption. Changes in smoking behaviour are then related to changes in beliefs about the dangers of smoking which indicate that while the latter inhibit smoking they are also pliable when behaviour changes for other reasons. Finally, logistic regression is used to help explain change in smoking behaviour. The outcomes suggest that while young people, in terms of the impact of family background, can be seen as predisposed to smoke, some of the key explanatory factors in take-up are temporary, psychological states. This confirms that adolescent smoking is in large measure an adaptive response to immediate concerns and feelings.
Copyright 1999 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents.