Introduction: The health risks associated with smoking disproportionately burden Blacks, and Black adults are more likely to smoke than are White adults. Most adult smokers have their first smoking experience as teenagers; however, rates of smoking initiation during adolescence remain lower among Black compared with White youth.
Methods: The level and impact of family and peer risk and protective factors on adolescent smoking across both groups were modeled prospectively from 8th to 10th grade in a sample of 331 (Black n = 162, White n = 168) families using data from self-administered computer-assisted questionnaires. Predictors included parent smoking, guidelines against substance use, monitoring, consistent discipline, attachment to parents, and association with deviant peers.
Results: Mean-level differences indicated greater risk for Black teens in some cases and higher protection in others. Multiple-group structural equation modeling indicated no race differences. Several factors affected both groups: (a) parenting factors reduced association with deviant peers, (b) association with deviant peers increased the risk of smoking in the 10th grade, and (c) teens were more likely to smoke if their parents smoked.
Discussion: Reduced smoking among Black teens compared with White teens may be due to the protection of clear parental guidelines about substance use and clearly stated consequences for failure to observe those guidelines.