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Early smoking onset may promise initial pleasurable sensations and later addiction

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ABSTRACT

There is converging evidence suggesting a particular susceptibility to the addictive properties of nicotine among adolescents. The aim of the current study was to prospectively ascertain the relationship between age at first cigarette and initial smoking experiences, and to examine the combined effects of these characteristics of adolescent smoking behavior on adult smoking. It was hypothesized that the association between earlier age at first cigarette and later development of nicotine dependence may, at least in part, be attributable to differences in experiencing pleasurable early smoking sensations. Data were drawn from the participants of the Mannheim Study of Children at Risk, an ongoing epidemiological cohort study from birth to adulthood. Structured interviews at age 15, 19 and 22 years were conducted to assess the age at first cigarette, early smoking experiences and current smoking behavior in 213 young adults. In addition, the participants completed the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence. Adolescents who smoked their first cigarette at an earlier age reported more pleasurable sensations from the cigarette, and they were more likely to be regular smokers at age 22. The age at first cigarette also predicted the number of cigarettes smoked and dependence at age 22. Thus, both the age of first cigarette and the pleasure experienced from the cigarette independently predicted aspects of smoking at age 22.

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