• Cigarettes;
  • Early Smoking Experience;
  • genetics;
  • subjective effects;
  • twins


Aim  To examine individual differences in positive and negative subjective experiences to initial cigarette use.

Design  Retrospective self-reports of initial subjective experiences were examined to estimate the genetic and environmental influences and the extent of their covariation across different effects.

Participants  Data was drawn from 2482 young adult same-and opposite sex twins- and siblings participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Measurement  Subjective experiences were retrospectively collected using the Early Smoking Experience (ESE) questionnaire.

Findings  Positive experiences evidenced moderate heritable contributions (40%, 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.56), as did an overall hedonic measure (34%, 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.46) and dizziness (34%, 95% CI: 0.15 to 0.52). Negative experiences evidenced small heritable contributions (13%, 95% CI: 0.00 to 0.36). Individual specific environmental influences were strong and accounted for the remaining proportion of observed variation in these experiences. Multivariate genetic modeling identified a moderately heritable underlying factor (37%, 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.52) that influenced the covariation of diverse subjective experiences and loaded most heavily on dizziness. Positive experiences also evidence residual genetic influences that were uncorrelated with other subjective experiences.

Conclusions  How a person experiences their initial few cigarettes is due to both heritable contributions and environmental experiences unique to the person. The covariation of diverse subjective experiences appears to be due to a heritable latent sensitivity to the chemicals contained in an average cigarette and is best indexed by dizziness.