Early Puberty, Ethnicity May Contribute to Teen Smoking: Parental Monitoring Matters

Article excerpt

TAMPA, FLA. -- Understanding preadolescent expectations about cigarette smoking may offer opportunities to assist teens in lifetime tobacco avoidance.

Youths who smoke typically progress through a sequence of stages, Michiko Otsuki said at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.

First is the anticipatory stage, during which attitudes toward smoking are formed. This stage is followed by one in which the child tries cigarettes, then experiments more frequently. Ultimately, the result is regular use and nicotine dependence, she said.

Of particular concern are early maturing children, who may be vulnerable to risky behaviors and their consequences because of others' assumptions about their maturity. They may be susceptible to social pressures to engage in precocious behaviors, although their cognitive and emotional maturity are inadequate for these demands, said Ms. Otsuki of the University of California, Riverside.

But close parental monitoring of early maturers often can prevent these behaviours, according to findings from a study of 149 fifth-grade students in a medium-sized southern California city.

The study participants were 80 boys and 69 girls whose mean age was 11 years. A total of 42% were of non-Latino whites.

Assessment included pubertal development, parental monitoring, and sociodemographic status. Smoking anticipation was evaluated by asking, "By the time you are 12 years old, what are the chances you will have tried cigarettes, even one or two puffs? …