Context: Although advertising theories have long viewed curiosity as an intermediate goal to encouraging consumption of a product among previous nonusers, this variable is rarely discussed in psychological theories and its role in smoking uptake has not been addressed adequately.
Design and setting: Using a longitudinal design, in 1999, we reinterviewed 12- to 15-year-old adolescent never smokers (N=2119; 970 committed never smokers, 1199 susceptible never smokers) 3 years after they responded to a population survey on tobacco use in California.
Results: Logistic regression showed curiosity and susceptibility to smoke were independently associated with increased future smoking in all never smokers. Committed never smokers reporting curiosity were more likely to become susceptible by follow-up than those not curious. A multivariate analysis of committed never smokers from the cross-sectional survey identified best friends who smoke and receptivity to tobacco advertising and promotions as associated with curiosity.
Conclusions: Curiosity may be a critical precursor to smoking. Future research on smoking initiation should examine curiosity and investigate factors influencing it.