Adolescent Cigarette Smoking in U.S. Racial/Ethnic Subgroups: Findings from the National Education Longitudinal Study


cigarette smoking, adolescents, cigarettes, grade point average, parents, human services, self esteem, urban schools, minority group students


Using nationally representative data for 16,454 8th graders and 13,840 10th graders, we explore racial/ethnic differences in "daily cigarette initiation," beginning to smoke on a daily basis between baseline interviews and reinterviews conducted two years later. In both samples, the initiation rate among whites is more than double the rate among blacks and higher than rates among Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics. Risk factors at the individual, family, and peer-group levels of analysis do not explain most racial/ethnic differences. We develop alternative hypotheses by extending theories of cigarette use to the school level, and we test them using multilevel models: Consistent with social learning theory, cigarette risk among blacks and Hispanics decreases as the percentage of racial/ethnic minority students in the school increases. Consistent with strain theory, cigarette risk increases with the academic competitiveness of the school–especially among females–after controlling for the adolescent's academic performance.

Original Publication Citation

Johnson, Robert A., and John P. Hoffmann. 2000. “Adolescent Cigarette Smoking in U.S. Racial/Ethnic Subgroups: Findings from the National Educational Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 41(4): 392-407.4

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Health and Social Behavior




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor