Introduction: Parental monitoring has been identified as a predictor of adolescent smoking initiation. However, it is uncertain if the association is uniform across different racial groups.
Methods: Random samples of low birth-weight and normal birth-weight children were drawn from newborn discharge lists (1983-1985) of two major hospitals in southeast Michigan, one serving an inner city and the other serving suburbs. Assessments occurred at ages 6, 11, and 17 years. Statistical analysis was conducted on children with data on parent monitoring at age 11 and tobacco use at age 17 who had never smoked a cigarette up to age 11 (n = 572). Multiple logistic regression was used to examine the association between parent monitoring and children's smoking initiation. Two-way interactions were tested.
Results: The relationship between parent monitoring at age 11 and child smoking initiation from ages 11 to 17 varied by race. Among White children, an increase of 1 point on the parent monitoring scale signaled an 11% reduction in the odds of initiating smoking by age 17. In contrast, parent monitoring was not significantly associated with smoking initiation among Black children.
Discussion: The results suggest a differential influence of parent monitoring on adolescent smoking between White and Black children. Future research would benefit from close attention to parental goals and concerns and to extra-familial factors that shape smoking behavior across racially and socially disparate communities.