Prevention Science

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 743–750 | Cite as

Early-Emerging Nicotine Dependence Has Lasting and Time-Varying Effects on Adolescent Smoking Behavior

  • Arielle S. SelyaEmail author
  • Lisa Dierker
  • Jennifer S. Rose
  • Donald Hedeker
  • Robin J. Mermelstein


Novice and light adolescent smokers can develop symptoms of nicotine dependence, which predicts smoking behavior several years into the future. However, little is known about how the association between these early - emerging symptoms and later smoker behaviors may change across time from early adolescence into young adulthood. Data were drawn from a 7-year longitudinal study of experimental (<100 cigarettes/lifetime; N = 594) and light (100+ cigarettes/lifetime, but ≤5 cigarettes/day; N = 152) adolescent smokers. Time-varying effect models were used to examine the relationship between baseline nicotine dependence (assessed at age 15 ± 2 years) and future smoking frequency through age 24, after controlling for concurrent smoking heaviness. Baseline smoking status, race, and sex were examined as potential moderators of this relationship. Nicotine dependence symptoms assessed at approximately age 15 significantly predicted smoking frequency through age 24, over and above concurrent smoking heaviness, though it showed declining trends at older ages. Predictive validity was weaker among experimenters at young ages (<16), but stronger at older ages (20–23), relative to light smokers. Additionally, nicotine dependence was a stronger predictor of smoking frequency for white smokers around baseline (ages 14.5–16), relative to nonwhite smokers. Nicotine dependence assessed in mid-adolescence predicts smoking frequency well into early adulthood, over and above concurrent smoking heaviness, especially among novice smokers and nonwhite smokers. Early-emerging nicotine dependence is a promising marker for screening and interventions aimed at preventing smoking progression.


Adolescents Nicotine dependence Smoking Time-varying effect models 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research was funded by Project Grant P01 CA098262 from the National Cancer Institute, R01 DA022313 and R21 DA029834 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Center Grant P50 DA010075 awarded to Penn State University. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH, NCI, or NIDA.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arielle S. Selya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lisa Dierker
    • 2
  • Jennifer S. Rose
    • 2
  • Donald Hedeker
    • 3
  • Robin J. Mermelstein
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Population HealthUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentWesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Health Research and PolicyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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