Estimation of Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Smoking Addiction

  • Ming D. Li


Many studies of twins have shown that genetic and environmental factors play significant, and approximately equal, roles in the determination of smoking initiation (SI) and persistence (SP). Estimates of heritability (h 2 ) and shared (c 2 ) and unique (e 2 ) environmental effects display considerable variability for both SI and SP from one study to another, most likely because of differences in statistical analysis models, subject age, sex, sample size, origin of cohorts, and measurement of smoking behavior. By analyzing nine studies for SI and 12 studies for SP, we found that the parameters h 2 , c 2 , and e 2 for SI were (mean ± SEM) 0.37 ± 0.04, 0.49 ± 0.04, and 0.17 ± 0.03, respectively, in male adults and 0.55 ± 0.04, 0.24 ± 0.06, and 0.16 ± 0.01, respectively, in female adults. Further, the h 2 , c 2 , and e 2 for SP were 0.59 ± 0.02, 0.08 ± 0.04, and 0.37 ± 0.03, respectively, in male adults and 0.46 ± 0.12, 0.28 ± 0.08, and 0.24 ± 0.07, respectively, in female adults. Apparently, genetic factor plays a more significant role in SI and a less significant one in SP in female compared with male adults. A significant sex difference also was detected in a shared environmental factor for SI and SP. No significant sex difference was seen for e 2 in either phenotype. Together, these findings suggest that genetic and environmental factors contribute differently to the determination of SI and SP in male and female smokers.


Heritability Family study Twin study Smoking initiation Smoking dependence Smoking persistence Monozygotic twins Dizygotic twins Meta-analysis Sex 



This work was modified from the paper published by our group in Addiction (Li et al. 2003; 98: 23–31). The related contents are reused with permission.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming D. Li
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Zhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina

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