The natural history of cigarette smoking from adolescence to adulthood: demographic predictors of continuity and change

Health Psychol. 1996 Nov;15(6):478-84. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.15.6.478.


The current study examined the natural history of smoking from adolescence to adulthood in a community sample. Participants were from a longitudinal study (N = 4,035, 51.7% female, average age = 29 years). Group-level analyses showed a significant increase in smoking from adolescence to young adulthood and a nonsignificant decline after the mid-20s. Individual-level analyses showed that there was appreciable cessation and relapse but little new initiation in adulthood. Both adolescent and young adult smoking status were powerful predictors of adult smoking. Moreover, there was less cessation among less educated individuals and those with smoking parents, and more cessation among those who assumed adult social roles. The findings support the importance of prevention campaigns aimed at adolescent smoking and also suggest that those with lower educational attainment or with a family history of smoking are at heightened risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Risk Factors
  • Role
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention