Novice and light adolescent smokers can develop symptoms of nicotine dependence, which predicts smoking behavior several years into the future. However, little is known about how the association between these early - emerging symptoms and later smoker behaviors may change across time from early adolescence into young adulthood. Data were drawn from a 7-year longitudinal study of experimental (<100 cigarettes/lifetime; N = 594) and light (100+ cigarettes/lifetime, but ≤5 cigarettes/day; N = 152) adolescent smokers. Time-varying effect models were used to examine the relationship between baseline nicotine dependence (assessed at age 15 ± 2 years) and future smoking frequency through age 24, after controlling for concurrent smoking heaviness. Baseline smoking status, race, and sex were examined as potential moderators of this relationship. Nicotine dependence symptoms assessed at approximately age 15 significantly predicted smoking frequency through age 24, over and above concurrent smoking heaviness, though it showed declining trends at older ages. Predictive validity was weaker among experimenters at young ages (<16), but stronger at older ages (20–23), relative to light smokers. Additionally, nicotine dependence was a stronger predictor of smoking frequency for white smokers around baseline (ages 14.5–16), relative to nonwhite smokers. Nicotine dependence assessed in mid-adolescence predicts smoking frequency well into early adulthood, over and above concurrent smoking heaviness, especially among novice smokers and nonwhite smokers. Early-emerging nicotine dependence is a promising marker for screening and interventions aimed at preventing smoking progression.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 16, 2016
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