Adolescent cigarette smoking: health-related behavior or normative transgression?
Relations among measures of adolescent behavior were examined to determine whether cigarette smoking fits into a structure of problem behaviors-behaviors that involve normative transgression-or a structure of health-related behaviors, or both. In an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of 1782 male and female high school adolescents, four first-order problem behavior latent variables-sexual intercourse experience, alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, and delinquency-were established and together were shown to reflect a second-order latent variable of problem behavior. Four first-order latent variables of health-related behaviors-unhealthy dietary habits, sedentary behavior, unsafe behavior, and poor dental hygiene-were also established and together were shown to reflect a second-order latent variable of health-compromising behavior. The structure of relations among those latent variables was modeled. Cigarette smoking had a significant and substantial loading only on the problem-behavior latent variable; its loading on the health-compromising behavior latent variable was essentially zero. Adolescent cigarette smoking relates strongly and directly to problem behaviors and only indirectly, if at all, to health-compromising behaviors. Interventions to prevent or reduce adolescent smoking should attend more to factors that influence problem behaviors.