Background: Because cigarette smoking affects the respiratory system earlier than many other systems of the human body, an attempt was made to identify objective and subjective respiratory problems among adolescent smokers.
Methods: Two studies based on a pulmonary function test (PFT), respiratory symptom assessment, and other smoking-related variables were undertaken. Study 1 involved cigarette smokers (N = 18, 22% males, mean age 18.7 years) from a freshman college class who participated in an acute smoking experiment that involved performing a PFT before and after smoking a single cigarette. Study 2 was performed on a combined group of vocational-technical high school students and freshman college students (N = 44, 48% males, mean age 17.8 years) where PFT parameters, respiratory symptoms, and smoking-related health vulnerability were assessed among smokers vs nonsmokers.
Results: In Study 1, the average reduction across PFT parameters was 4.4% and the mean estimated lung age increased from 27.15 to 29.84 years. In Study 2, a consistent trend toward reduction of PFT values among smokers vs nonsmokers was observed; the mean forced expiratory volume in 1 sec/forced vital capacity ratio (90.51% vs 94.59%), peak expiratory flow rate (80.32% vs 92.06%), and flow rate of 50% of forced vital capacity (88.39% vs 102.81%) differed significantly. Significant differences in respiratory symptoms were also observed among smokers vs nonsmokers.
Conclusions: The beginning of respiratory health disorders can be identified among adolescent smokers. These findings might provide important clues on how to improve outcomes from health care provider-based adolescent smoking cessation counseling.