The association of adolescents' smoking with the physical activity levels of their friends

R. A. Smit, M. A.G. Kuipers, B. Federico, L. Clancy, J. Perelman, A. D. Rozema, A. E. Kunst

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Background: Smoking is inversely related to people's Physical Activity Level (PAL). As the behavior of friends may affect the choices and behavior of adolescents, having friends with a high PAL may potentially protect against adolescent smoking. This study aims to assess whether adolescents' smoking is associated with the PAL of their friends. Methods: SILNE-R survey data of 11.918 adolescents from 55 different schools in 7 European cities was used to determine weekly smoking, individual PAL, PAL of friends, school PAL, and smoking of friends. Multilevel, multivariable logistic regression analysis were used to assess the association between the PAL of friends and weekly smoking. Several socio-demographic variables were included as covariates in the analysis. Results: Our results indicated that 10.8% of the respondents was smoking weekly. Weekly smoking was most common among adolescents whose friends had a PAL of 0–42.0 min per day (14.5%). Respondents were significantly more likely to be smoking weekly if their friends were on average 0–42 min vs. 80–180 min physically active (OR 1.27 [95% CI 1.04–1.55]). This association existed independently of the individual PAL of respondents. Stratification for smoking of friends yielded equal results, although the association appeared to be somewhat stronger for those with smoking friends (OR 1.38 [95% CI 1.06–1.82]). Conclusion: Adolescents are less likely to smoke weekly if they associate with friends who spend >80 min per day on physical activity. Initiatives aimed at the prevention of smoking among adolescents may benefit from organizing group-based physical activity programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107652
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Adolescents
  • Friends
  • Physical activity
  • Prevention
  • Smoking
  • Social norms
  • Sports


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