Child physical and sexual abuse and cigarette smoking in adolescence and adulthood

J Adolesc Health. 2013 Oct;53(4):533-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Purpose: Analyses used data from an extended longitudinal study to examine the relationship between childhood physical and sexual abuse (CPA and CSA, respectively) and adolescent and adult smoking behavior. Two questions guided the study: (1) Is there an association between childhood abuse and adolescent and adult smoking behavior? (2) Does the relationship between childhood abuse and later cigarette smoking differ for males and females?

Methods: A censored-inflated path model was used to assess the impact of child abuse on adolescent and adult lifetime smoking prevalence and smoking frequency. Gender differences in significant model paths were assessed using a multiple-group approach.

Results: Results show no significant relation between CPA or CSA and risk of having ever smoked cigarettes in adolescence or adulthood. However, for males, both CPA and CSA had direct effects on adolescent smoking frequency. For females, only CSA predicted increased smoking frequency in adolescence. Adolescent smoking frequency predicted adult smoking frequency more strongly for females compared with males.

Conclusions: CPA and CSA are risk factors for higher frequency of smoking in adolescence. Higher frequency of cigarette smoking in adolescence increases the risk of higher smoking frequency in adulthood. Results underscore the need for both primary and secondary prevention and intervention efforts to reduce the likelihood of childhood abuse and to lessen risk for cigarette smoking among those who have been abused.

Keywords: Child abuse; Cigarettes; Physical abuse; Sexual abuse; Smoking; Substance use; Trauma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States