Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars marketing their products to consumers, and millions of youth in the United States become smokers by high school. Understanding the factors associated with smoking initiation during early adolescence is necessary to inform and improve smoking prevention efforts.
Sensation seeking, or the drive for novel stimuli, is associated with health risk-taking. The middle school years are peak years for smoking experimentation and initiation. Yet, our literature review found few studies examining the combination of sensation seeking, smoking perceptions, and smoking experimentation in an ethnically diverse, predominantly Hispanic/Latino, early adolescent sample. The current study examines this group and explores the smoking attitudes, intentions, and behaviors of ninety-three 12-14 year olds. Of particular interest is whether sensation seeking tendencies are associated with smoking experimentation.
Results indicated that sensation seeking is positively correlated with the intention to try smoking, and with smoking behavior. High sensation seekers are at risk for smoking experimentation, and would likely benefit from more focused prevention efforts. Recommendations for community awareness and for designing smoking prevention approaches for youth are discussed.
|Keywords:||Health Communication, Sensation Seeking, Smoking Prevention, Tobacco Marketing, Hispanic/Latino Youth|
Professor, Communication Studies Department, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California, USA
Certified Teacher, English Language Arts, Loudoun County Public Schools, Ashburn, Virginia, USA