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Prev Med. 2000 Aug;31(2 Pt 1):107-14.

A model of smoking among inner-city adolescents: the role of personal competence and perceived social benefits of smoking.

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Institute for Prevention Research, Cornell University, Weill Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Based on current trends, smoking will remain a major public health problem in the 21st century. Effective smoking prevention approaches offer the best hope for decreasing the rise in adolescent smoking rates. Competence enhancement approaches to smoking prevention are among the most successful. Yet, there is not a full understanding of how effective prevention approaches work. This study tests whether a deficiency in competence (poor decision-making skills and low personal efficacy) is linked to acquiring beliefs in the perceived benefits of smoking and whether these perceived benefits are then related to subsequent smoking.


A sample of 1459 students attending 22 middle and junior high schools in New York City participated. Students completed surveys at baseline, 1-year follow-up and 2-year follow-up during a regular class period. They self-reported smoking, decision-making skills, personal efficacy and beliefs in the perceived benefits of smoking.


The tested structural equation model had a good fit and was parsimonious and consistent with the theory underlying the competence approach to smoking prevention.


This research highlights the importance of addressing decision-making skills, personal efficacy, and beliefs in the social benefits of smoking within adolescent smoking prevention programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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