• Article

Public and private domains of religiosity and adolescent smoking transitions

We used data from a nationally representative sample of US adolescents in school grades 7 through 12 to explore the effects of public and private religiosity on initiation, escalation, and cessation of smoking. We found that adolescents' decisions to experiment with smoking are influenced by both their individual practice of their faith and by participation in a larger faith community. However, the effects of private and public religiosity are specific to different decision points on the smoking uptake process. Private religiosity was protective against initiation of regular smoking among nonsmokers. It also was protective against initiation of experimental smoking but only when the young person frequently attended religious services or a religious youth group. Although private religiosity appeared to discourage the uptake of smoking, it was unrelated to reduction or cessation once a young person has become addicted to cigarettes. In contrast, public religiosity did predict reduction and cessation of cigarette use among regular smokers. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the domains in which religiosity are important extend beyond the individual and include religious institutions


Nonnemaker, J., McNeely, C. A., & Blum, R. W. (2006). Public and private domains of religiosity and adolescent smoking transitions. Social Science and Medicine, 62(12), 3084-3095.