The status of smoking among tenth-graders in Jerusalem high schools as part of a smoking prevention program was examined. Two consecutive cohorts of 792 and 771 subjects were given questionnaires on two occasions: at the onset of the study (fall 1980 for the first cohort and fall 1981 for the second), and either 2 years (first cohort) or 1 year (second cohort) later. Based on the theory that smoking relates to counterconformity entailing rebelliousness and conformity to a nonconformist peer culture, subjects were asked about their behaviors and cognitions concerning school, home, peers, drinking, and smoking. It was reasoned that no single variable can predict, let alone explain, the onset and continuation of smoking and that the various factors that relate to smoking and distinguish between smokers and nonsmokers (a) constitute a systematic and coherent syndrome of counterconformity variables, which (b) reinforce each other, and (c) that over time, smoking and counterconformity come to affect each other reciprocally. These hypotheses were supported by the data. Smokers were found to differ from nonsmokers in a number of ways that were all related to counterconformity. Truancy and an inability to resist peer pressure to smoke, manifestations of two aspects of this syndrome, were the best predictors of smoking for both sexes, both cohorts, and both measuring occasions. With time, personal rebelliousness tended to become a weaker predictor, while social interaction variables became relatively stronger. The intercorrelations among the nonsmokers who became smokers were the highest, as predicted. The nature of the syndrome, its changing structure, and implications for prevention are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
i Supported by a grant from the Thyssen Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany Stein and S. Eisenberg. z To whom reprint requests should be addressed: Tel Aviv University, School of Education, Aviv 69978, Israel.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health