Parental influence on adolescent smoking initiation among Mexican origin youth

Vandita Rajesh, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Smoking is often initiated in adolescence through trying or experimenting with cigarettes. Smoking initiation is the beginning critical stage in the smoking trajectory often resulting in addiction. This dissertation examined the effect of parenting variables on smoking initiation behavior among 11–14 year old Mexican origin adolescents, a largely understudied group. The participants in this study were part of a population-based cohort of Mexican origin adolescents residing in Houston, Texas. Aim 1 of this study assessed the appropriateness of the Family Life Questionnaire (FLQ) among Mexican origin adolescents. Second order confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was performed to examine the factor structure of the FLQ and measurement invariance testing was conducted to evaluate the cross-cultural validity of this scale. Aim 2 analyzed cross-sectional associations between parenting variables and adolescent ever tried smoking behavior while aim 3 focused on prospective examination of changes in parenting variables from baseline to final follow-up on ever tried smoking behavior among never smokers. Overall, the results of the CFA indicated that the original factor structure of the FLQ, with alterations, was a good fit for the Mexican origin adolescents. The measurement invariance analysis of the modified FLQ scale indicated adequate measurement invariance. The aim 2 cross-sectional analyses indicated that family cohesion was significantly associated with lower odds of ever tried smoking. Authoritarian parenting was significantly associated with smoking initiation only at the baseline while family conflict was significantly associated with smoking initiation only at the two-year final home visit. The findings from the aim 3 prospective analysis indicated that changes in levels of family cohesion and conflict are important predictors of smoking initiation among those who have never tried smoking. Specifically, perceiving low levels of family cohesion and a decrease in the family cohesion over two years, as well as perceiving high levels of family conflict and an increase in conflict over two years was associated with smoking initiation among never smokers. In general, the findings of this study provide important insights on the links between parenting and adolescent smoking and assist in designing prevention and intervention programs that emphasize the role of family bonding to prevent adolescent smoking behavior. Family education programs for Mexican culture could also highlight the positive effects of authoritarian practices and good family communication to prevent family conflict and subsequent smoking behavior.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Public health|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Rajesh, Vandita, "Parental influence on adolescent smoking initiation among Mexican origin youth" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3499508.