Purpose: To examine parental influences on two transitions in the adolescent smoking uptake process: from never having smoked to experimentation and from experimentation to established smoking.
Methods: Using data from the longitudinal Teenage Attitudes and Practices Survey of 1989-1993, we related perceived parental concern about their adolescents' future smoking, parental smoking status, problem-solving communication between parent and adolescent, demographics, and other factors at baseline to experimentation by follow-up among those who had never puffed on a cigarette (n = 4149). We also related these factors at baseline to reaching a lifetime level of smoking of at least 100 cigarettes by follow up among those who had experimented but smoked < 100 cigarettes (n = 2684) in univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Among never-smokers, baseline susceptibility to smoking and having male best friends who smoke predicted experimentation in the next 4 years. Among experimenters, susceptibility to smoking, having male or female best friends who smoked, and lack of parental concern about future smoking distinguished those who progressed to established smoking by follow-up. Furthermore, communicating with parents first about serious problems was protective against progression from experimentation to established smoking.
Conclusion: Interventions aimed at reducing adolescent smoking should encourage cessation for parents who smoke and help parents communicate strong anti-smoking norms to children and adolescents and maintain strong lines of communication with them.