The Roles of Education and Religion in the Prevention of Smoking over the Transition to Adulthood

Anna Mueller, University of Texas at Austin
Janelle Guillory, University of Texas at Austin
Chandra Muller, University of Texas at Austin

Educational disparities in smoking, which are primary precursors of differential rates of morbidity and mortality, are a major public health problem. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we investigate several aspects of schooling in order to disentangle the mechanisms that translate higher educational achievement into healthier smoking habits in adulthood. In addition to education, we investigate the role of another major social institution that influences adolescents – religion. We find that religious adolescents are less likely to have tried smoking by young adulthood and that this effect is especially strong among adolescents who go to college. Education plays the greatest role in preventing regular smoking (rather than preventing adolescents from trying smoking). We find that the more challenging curriculum an adolescent gets in high school, particularly if they do not go to college, the less likely they are to be regular smokers in young adulthood.

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Presented in Session 64: Social Determinants of Health Risking Behaviors