Smoker identity and smoking escalation among adolescents

Health Psychol. 2012 Jul;31(4):467-75. doi: 10.1037/a0028923.


Objective: We investigated whether there is a positive, unique relation between smoker identity and smoking escalation.

Methods: Adolescents from the Chicago area (n = 1263) completed paper-and-pencil questionnaires and in-person interviews at baseline, 6 months, 15 months, and 24 months of a longitudinal study. Smoking behavior, smoker identity, nicotine dependence, smoking expectancies, smoking motives, and novelty seeking were assessed.

Results: There was a unique relation between smoker identity and smoking escalation. The more that adolescents thought smoking was a defining aspect of who they were, the more likely their smoking escalated.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that smoker identity could be targeted for preventing escalation. Research on its development is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chicago
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use Disorder