Objective: Research on the association of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with cigarette smoking has primarily occurred within samples of clinically referred youths. This paper reports the association of ADHD symptoms with smoking practices in a community sample of adolescents.
Method: Confidential self-report surveys were completed by 1,066 tenth-grade students enrolled in five public high schools who were taking part in a longitudinal study of biobehavioral predictors of adolescent smoking adoption. A well-standardized measure of ADHD inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms, as well as demographic and social risk factors, were examined in relation to three levels of cigarette smoking: (1) never having smoked, (2) ever having smoked, and (3) current smoking (having smoked a cigarette within the past 30 days).
Results: Regarding lifetime cigarette use, approximately 43% of students had ever smoked. Among those who had ever smoked, approximately 31% of students were current smokers. Ever having smoked was associated with family (odds ratio [OR] = 2.49, confidence interval [CI] = 1.85, 3.36) and peer smoking (OR = 4.05, CI = 3.07, 5.33) and clinically significant ADHD inattention symptoms (OR = 3.39, CI = 1.53, 7.54). Current smoking was also associated with peer smoking (OR = 2.99, CI = 1.72, 5.20) and clinically significant ADHD inattention symptoms (OR = 2.80, CI = 1.20, 6.56).
Conclusion: Clinically significant ADHD symptoms should be taken into account when identifying adolescents at risk to smoke, since those with problematic inattention may be more likely to experiment with smoking and to become regular tobacco users.