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Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jun;16(6):855-63. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu018. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Influences of tobacco advertising exposure and conduct problems on smoking behaviors among adolescent males and females.

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Department of Oncology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC;



Adolescents with conduct problems are more likely to smoke, and tobacco advertising exposure may exacerbate this risk. Males' excess risk for conduct problems and females' susceptibility to advertising suggest gender-specific pathways to smoking. We investigated the associations between gender, conduct problems, and lifetime smoking and adolescents' exposure to tobacco advertising, and we examined prospective relationships with smoking behaviors.


Adolescents completed baseline (2001-2004; n = 541) and 5-year follow-up (2007-2009; n =320) interviews for a family study of smoking risk. Baseline interviews assessed conduct problems and tobacco advertising exposure; smoking behavior was assessed at both timepoints. Generalized linear models analyzed gender differences in the relationship between conduct problems, advertising exposure, and smoking behavior at baseline and longitudinally.


At baseline, among males, conduct problems were associated with greater advertising exposure independent of demographics and lifetime smoking. Among females at baseline, conduct problems were associated with greater advertising exposure only among never-smokers after adjusting for demographics. In longitudinal analyses, baseline advertising exposure predicted subsequent smoking initiation (i.e., smoking their first cigarette between baseline and follow-up) for females but not for males. Baseline conduct problems predicted current (i.e., daily or weekly) smoking at follow-up for all adolescents in adjusted models.


The findings of this study reinforce that conduct problems are a strong predictor of subsequent current smoking for all adolescents and reveal important differences between adolescent males and females in the relationship between conduct problems, tobacco advertising behavior, and smoking behavior. The findings suggest gender-specific preventive interventions targeting advertising exposure may be warranted.

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