Predicting the Onset of Cigarette Smoking in Adolescents: A Longitudinal Study

Laurie Chassin, Clark C. Presson, Steven J. Sherman, Eric Corty, Richard W. Olshavsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

291 Scopus citations


In a longitudinal study, the second‐year‐smoking status of adolescents who were initially Nonsmokers or Triers was predicted from their Year 1 standing on three types of social psychological variables: Ajzen and Fishbein's factors (predicting smoking transitions from attitudes, normative beliefs and behavioral intentions about smoking); Jessor and Jessor's distal variables (predicting smoking transitions from more generalized personality and perceived environment factors), and smoking environment variables (predicting smoking transitions from the extent of smoking models in an adolescent's social milieu). The predictive power of these three categories of factors was compared. All three classes of social psychological variables were statistically significant predictors of smoking transition, although the Ajzen and Fishbein variables were more important for Triers while the Jessor and Jessor and smoking environment variables were more important for initial Never Smokers. Moreover, each category of variables made independent contributions to the prediction of smoking transition. Finally, there were several age and sex differences in the relative importance of predictor variables. Implications of these findings for the design of effective smoking prevention programs are discussed. Smoking prevention programs might be more effective if they were aimed at a specific high risk audience (as identified by the current study) rather than at a general adolescent population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-243
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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