Tobacco Smoking and Antisocial Deviance Among Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and European-American Adolescents

Published in: Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology [Epub March 2018]

Posted on RAND.org on May 22, 2018

by Bahr Weiss, Tam Nguyen, Lam T. Trung, Victoria K. Ngo, Anna S. Lau

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Tobacco smoking is one of the most significant modifiable behavioral health risk factors worldwide. Although smoking rates in some high-income countries (HIC) have declined, rates in many low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC) remain high. Adolescence is a key developmental risk period for smoking initiation. Research indicates that a major adolescent risk factor for tobacco smoking is antisocial deviance, which includes such behaviors as aggression, risk-taking, and rule-breaking. The linkages between antisocial deviance and smoking suggest that these behaviors and their underlying attitudes can be important targets for smoking prevention programs, but for public health efficiency it is important to target the components of antisocial deviance most closely linked smoking. However, although 80% of smokers live in LMIC, most relevant research has been conducted in HIC and its applicability to LMIC is unclear, given cultural differences between many HIC and LMIC. The purpose of the present study was to assess cross-cultural variations in relations among components of antisocial deviance and self-reported tobacco smoking among 2,724 10th and 11th grade Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and European-American students. Within the combined sample the relation between self-reported smoking and overall antisocial deviance was [beta] = 0.33. However, the component of antisocial deviance most strongly related to smoking varied across groups, with Risk-taking most strongly related to smoking for Vietnamese-American ([beta] = 0.37) and Vietnamese ([beta] = 0.36) adolescents, and Rule-breaking Behavior most strongly related to smoking for European-American ([beta] = 0.51) adolescents. These and other findings suggest the possible importance of culturally-tailored foci for smoking prevention programs emphasizing different aspects of antisocial deviance.

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