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Health Psychol. 1999 Jan;18(1):7-13.

A genetic association for cigarette smoking behavior.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemistry, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Dopaminergic genes are likely candidates for heritable influences on cigarette smoking. In an accompanying article, Lerman et al. (1999) report associations between allele 9 of a dopamine transporter gene polymorphism (SLC6A3-9) and lack of smoking, late initiation of smoking, and length of quitting attempts. The present investigation extended their study by examining both smoking behavior and personality traits in a diverse population of nonsmokers, current smokers, and former smokers (N = 1,107). A significant association between SLC6A3-9 and smoking status was confirmed and was due to an effect on cessation rather than initiation. The SLC6A3-9 polymorphism was also associated with low scores for novelty seeking, which was the most significant personality correlate of smoking cessation. It is hypothesized that individuals carrying the SLC6A3-9 polymorphism have altered dopamine transmission, which reduces their need for novelty and reward by external stimuli, including cigarettes.

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