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Behav Genet. 2006 Jul;36(4):567-76. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

The implications of simultaneous smoking initiation for inferences about the genetics of smoking behavior from twin data.

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Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63100, USA.


We examined early social influences across stages of smoking within the context of a twin study using an environmental exposure specific to smoking: whether twins started smoking at the same time ("simultaneous smoking initiation": SSI). We expected that SSI would be a good index of shared social influences on smoking initiation. Rates of SSI were indeed significantly higher in MZ twins and in twins who shared peers and classes, as well as in male twins. With the exception of regular smoking in females, we found no significant difference in estimates of genetic and environmental parameters between SSI and non-SSI pairs for any of the smoking measures that we examined (DSM-IV and Fagerstrom HSI measures of nicotine dependence; DSM-IV nicotine withdrawal; heavy smoking; and in males, regular smoking). For regular smoking in females, allowing for additional shared environmental influences associated with SSI only modestly reduced our estimates of additive genetic variance (56% vs. 68%). These results indicate the important social influences that may occur for smoking initiation do not appear to seriously bias estimates of genetic effects on later stages of smoking.

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