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Prev Med. 2008 Jun;46(6):585-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.01.019. Epub 2008 Feb 9.

Adolescents report both positive and negative consequences of experimentation with cigarette use.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA.



To examine the physiological and social consequences that 9th and 10th grade adolescents experience as a result of experimenting with cigarette use, and whether consequences vary by level of experimentation and gender.


Data were collected between 2001 and 2004 from 395 adolescents attending two northern California public high schools. Analyses are limited to 155 adolescents who reported puffing on cigarettes or smoking whole cigarettes at any of four time points during the study.


The percentage of adolescents reporting consequences of smoking was as follows: any positive consequence (56%), felt relaxed (46%), looked cool (31%), looked grown-up (27%), became popular (17%), any negative consequence (56%), friends were upset (35%), trouble catching breath (29%), bad cough (26%), and got into trouble (23%). Ten percent of adolescents reported only experiencing negative consequences, 11% reported only positive consequences, 45% reported both negative and positive consequences, and 34% reported no consequences. Greater levels of experimentation were associated with greater likelihood of reporting positive or negative consequences. Few gender differences emerged.


Adolescents experience both positive and negative consequences of experimentation with cigarette use. Prevention and intervention efforts should acknowledge that positive consequences of smoking may occur and address how these consequences can be achieved through other behaviors.

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