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Behav Genet. 1999 Nov;29(6):395-407.

Genetic and social determinants of initiation and age at onset of smoking in Australian twins.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Retrospective data on age at onset of smoking, reported by 3810 adult Australian twin pairs, were analyzed to determine the role of genetic and environmental factors in the onset of smoking. Results of nonmetric multidimensional scaling supported a two-process model in which different etiologic factors determined which individuals were at risk of becoming smokers and the age at onset of smoking in those who were at risk. Parametric model-fitting confirmed this difference. For female twins and younger male twins (aged 30 years or less), the onset of smoking was strongly influenced by genetic factors, with shared and nonshared environmental effects having a more modest impact. For older male twins, shared environmental influences on onset of smoking were very important, and the influence of genetic predisposition was slight. The age at which smoking onset occurred, however, was influenced by both genetic and nonshared environmental effects, but not by shared environmental effects, in both sexes and both cohorts.

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