Gender differences in the impact of adolescent smoking on lung function and respiratory symptoms. the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, Norway, 1995-1997

Respir Med. 2002 Oct;96(10):796-804. doi: 10.1053/rmed.2002.1350.


Girls take up smoking at least as frequently as boys. Few studies have focused on gender differences in the impact of adolescent smoking. We evaluated the sex-specific effect of adolescent smoking on respiratory symptoms and lung function. All students in junior high and high schools in Nord-Trøndelag County Norway, 1995-97, were invited to participate in a cross-sectional study. Information on smoking habits and respiratory symptoms was obtained by self-administered questionnaires. Spirometry was performed in accordance with ATS standards. Eight-thousand-three-hundred and five students (83%) completed both questionnaire and spirometry. Among 6811 students aged 13-18 years (50.3% girls) with no history of asthma, 2993 (43.9%) reported never smoking, 665 (98%) reported occasional smoking, and 667 (9.9%) reported daily smoking (mean initiation age: 13.9 years). More boys than girls were heavy smokers. In all smoking categories, smokers reported a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms than nonsmokers; symptoms increased with smoke burden. Girls reported more symptoms compared to boys with comparable smoke burden. A dose-response relation between smoking and reduced lung function was found only in girls. Girls were more vulnerable than boys to the impact of smoking on respiratory symptoms and lung function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Age Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires