Objective: To explore patterns of persistence and change in smoking behavior as well as risk factors associated with the developmental course of smoking from age 13 to 25.
Design: Data from the public use sample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 5,789) were analyzed using semiparametric group-based modeling.
Main outcome measures: Smoking quantity-frequency in the past 30 days.
Results: Six distinct smoking trajectories were identified: nonsmokers, experimenters, stable light smokers, quitters, late escalators, and stable high smokers. Baseline risk factors that were associated with greater likelihood of membership in all of the smoking trajectory groups compared with nonsmokers included alcohol use, deviance, peer smoking, and (with the exception of the late escalators) drug use. Deviance, peer smoking, and alcohol and drug use also distinguished the likelihood of membership among several of the 5 smoking trajectory groups.
Conclusion: The results add to basic etiologic research on developmental pathways of smoking in adolescence and young adulthood by providing evidence of heterogeneity in smoking behavior and prospectively linking different patterns of risk factors with the probability of trajectory group membership.