This study was guided by Jessor and Jessor's problem behavior theory (PBT) to test the relative effects of personality, perceived environment and behavior system variables on urban teen tobacco use. A sample of 518 urban African American youth residing in public housing communities in three large U.S. cities was utilized. Our results provide partial support for PBT in this study. Personality system variables (i.e., positive attitudes toward tobacco use, and depressive affect, cause and outcome indicators) and behavior system variables (i.e., delinquent behaviors) significantly predicted adolescent tobacco use. Depressive effect and cause indicators were stronger than depressive outcome indicators in predicting the extent of tobacco use. Additionally, age positively moderated the impact of positive attitudes about tobacco use on the extent of adolescent tobacco use. However, perceived environment system variables (e.g., exposure to delinquent peers) did not predict such use. This study suggests that PBT may aid in understanding adolescent tobacco use. Implications for practice and future inquiry are discussed.
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