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Social norms and its correlates as a pathway to smoking among young Latino adults


  • Echeverría, Sandra E.
  • Gundersen, Daniel A.
  • Manderski, Michelle T.B.
  • Delnevo, Cristine D.


Socially and culturally embedded norms regarding smoking may be one pathway by which individuals adopt smoking behaviors. However, few studies have examined if social norms operate in young adults, a population at high risk of becoming regular smokers. There is also little research examining correlates of social norms in populations with a large immigrant segment, where social norms are likely to differ from the receiving country and could contribute to a better understanding of previously reported acculturation-health associations. Using data from a nationally representative sample of young adults in the United States reached via a novel cell-phone sampling design, we explored the relationships between acculturation proxies (nativity, language spoken and generational status), socioeconomic position (SEP), smoking social norms and current smoking status among Latinos 18–34 years of age (n = 873). Specifically, we examined if a measure of injunctive norms assessed by asking participants about the acceptability of smoking among Latino co-ethnic peers was associated with acculturation proxies and SEP. Results showed a strong gradient in smoking social norms by acculturation proxies, with significantly less acceptance of smoking reported among the foreign-born and increasing acceptance among those speaking only/mostly English at home and third-generation individuals. No consistent and significant pattern in smoking social norms was observed by education, income or employment status, possibly due to the age of the study population. Lastly, those who reported that their Latino peers do not find smoking acceptable were significantly less likely to be current smokers compared to those who said their Latino peers were ambivalent about smoking (do not care either way) in crude models, and in models that adjusted for age, sex, generational status, language spoken, and SEP. This study provides new evidence regarding the role of social norms in shaping smoking behaviors among Latino young adults and suggests distinct influences of acculturation proxies and socioeconomic condition on smoking social norms in this population.

Suggested Citation

  • Echeverría, Sandra E. & Gundersen, Daniel A. & Manderski, Michelle T.B. & Delnevo, Cristine D., 2015. "Social norms and its correlates as a pathway to smoking among young Latino adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 187-195.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:124:y:2015:i:c:p:187-195
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.11.034

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