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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2002 May 1;66(3):303-14.

A longitudinal study of developmental trajectories to young adult cigarette smoking.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


This study examined smoking trajectories between adolescence and adulthood in an African American cohort followed prospectively from first grade to age 32. We classified non-smokers, former smokers, current smokers/late adopters (initiated after age 18), and current smokers/early adopters (initiated before age 17). Results show that almost half of the population were currently smoking. Multiple logistic regression analyses showed that non-smokers differed most from the three smoking groups on social integration. Non-smokers were less likely to have left home before the age of 18, to have had more drug use parental supervision as an adolescent, to have moved less, and to attend church more frequently as an adult. Those current smokers who initiated early differed from the non-smokers and also from the former smokers and the current smokers who adopted smoking after the age of 18; they were more likely to be rated as aggressive or both shy and aggressive by their first grade teachers and to have drug problems as adults. Current smokers were less likely to attend church as adults than the non-smokers and former smokers. Neither mother's smoking or lifetime depression was related to smoking. The findings elucidate the contribution of factors over the life course that have an impact on smoking initiation, continuation, and cessation. They highlight the importance of targeting African American children and adolescents for prevention despite the fact that African American youth have the lowest rates of smoking across all ethnic groups. Possible interventions could be aimed at early aggressive behavior, parental supervision and monitoring, and other social integration efforts.

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