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Grade 7 nonsmokers and experimenters (N = 4,165) were compared on a wide range of risk factors for future smoking derived from four prominent theories and whether these factors predicted daily smoking at Grade 12. Early experimenters scored consistently higher than did early nonsmokers on risk factors for future smoking. Common predictors of Grade 12 daily smoking for both groups included early exposure to an important adult who smokes, being young for one’s cohort, and weak academic bonds. For Grade 7 non-smokers, unique predictors of daily smoking included exposure to pro-smoking social influences (cigarette offers, sibling who smokes), early binge drinking, and being female. Unique predictors for early experimenters were less sharply delineated, although certain family factors appeared to be more important for this group. African Americans and Hispanics were also less likely to progress from experimental to daily smoking. Results point to the importance of adapting prevention efforts to the special needs of early nonsmokers and experimenters.

Originally published in: Journal of Applied Social Psychology, v. 32, no. 8, August 2002, pp. 1588-1603.

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