Between 1998 and 1999, researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, carried out a study of risk and protective factors that are associated with adolescents' involvement in cigarette smoking and that influence initiation of cigarette smoking in adolescence.
The researchers analyzed data from a set of surveys conducted annually between 1989 and 1992 of more than 1,500 racially and socioeconomically diverse adolescents.
The researchers found that adolescent smoking was more strongly associated with other problem behaviors, such as delinquency and drinking, than with health-compromising behaviors, such as a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits.
They also found that in addition to factors closely related to smoking (such as having parents or friends who smoke), there are psychosocial factors with a less obvious connection (such as religiosity, positive orientation to school, and positive relationships with adults) that prove to be strong protective factors against smoking.
One conclusion of the research is that prevention and intervention efforts should approach adolescent smoking more as a problem behavior than a health-related behavior, addressing personal and social factors associated with a range of problem behaviors in adolescents.