Peer Influences and Access to Cigarettes as Correlates of Adolescent Smoking: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Wuhan, China, and California

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Multicultural Psychology | Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Background. Few studies have assessed the effects of access to cigarettes and peer influences on adolescent smoking in non-Western countries. Using samples characterized by two distinct cultural, social, and economic systems, this study evaluated the associations of friends' smoking and perceived access to cigarettes with adolescent smoking behavior in California and Wuhan, China.
Methods. Survey data were obtained from 5870 eighth-grade students in the Independent Evaluation of the California Tobacco Control Program and 6992 seventh- to ninth-grade students in the Wuhan Smoking Prevention Trial. Odds ratios for lifetime and 30-day smoking, according to friends' smoking and perceived access to cigarettes, were calculated for boys and girls in both samples and compared.
Results. California students were more likely than Wuhan students to have friends who smoked and to perceive easy access to cigarettes. The smoking prevalence was lower in Wuhan than in California, mainly due to the low smoking prevalence among Wuhan girls. Friends' smoking was strongly associated with smoking in both samples, and the strength of this association did not differ between the two cultures. Access to cigarettes was associated with a higher risk of lifetime smoking in both cultures and a higher risk of past 30-day smoking in California only.
Conclusions. Despite divergent tobacco control policy enforcement, social structures, and cultural contexts, similarities exist between Wuhan and California. The findings suggest support for adapting a social-influences-based smoking prevention program developed in the United States to the culturally specific needs of youth in Wuhan, China.

Rights Information

© 2002 American Health Foundation and Elsevier Science (USA).