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J Subst Abuse. 2000;11(1):45-52.

Age-related differences in adolescent smokers' and nonsmokers' assessments of the relative addictiveness and health harmfulness of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana.

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National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University, New York, NY 10019, USA.


The present work was undertaken to determine how general beliefs about various substances and substance use behaviors change during adolescence. Secondary analyses were carried out on the telephone interview responses of 1,200 adolescent smokers and nonsmokers between the ages of 12 and 17. The specific beliefs regarding which substances were hardest to stop using and which were the most harmful to one's health by smoking status and age were compared using Chi-squared analyses for univariate comparisons, and polytomous logistic regression for multivariate analyses. Results revealed that the youngest cohort believed that marijuana was the substance most difficult to stop using while the oldest cohort believed that cigarettes were the hardest to stop using. A similar pattern was observed regarding which substance was the most harmful to one's health. While smokers believed that cigarettes were both the hardest to stop using and the most harmful, nonsmokers were divided between cigarettes and marijuana as the hardest to stop using, and indicated that marijuana, rather than cigarettes, were most harmful. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for substance abuse prevention and the development of relative risk assessments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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