The social context of adolescent smoking: a systems perspective

Am J Public Health. 2010 Jul;100(7):1218-28. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.167973. Epub 2010 May 13.


We used a systems science perspective to examine adolescents' personal networks, school networks, and neighborhoods as a system through which emotional support and peer influence flow, and we sought to determine whether these flows affected past-month smoking at 2 time points, 1994-1995 and 1996. To test relationships, we employed structural equation modeling and used public-use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n = 6504). Personal network properties affected past-month smoking at both time points via the flow of emotional support. We observed a feedback loop from personal network properties to emotional support and then to past-month smoking. Past-month smoking at time 1 fed back to positively affect in-degree centrality (i.e., popularity). Findings suggest that networks and neighborhoods in this system positively affected past-month smoking via flows of emotional support.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Peer Group*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Smoking*
  • Social Conformity
  • Social Support*
  • Systems Theory*