Adolescent Smoking Trajectories: Results from a Population-Based Cohort Study

Debra H. Bernat, Darin J. Erickson, Rachel Widome, Cheryl L. Perry, Jean L. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Purpose: To identify distinct smoking trajectories during adolescence and assess how smoking-related factors relate to trajectory membership. Methods: The sample includes 3637 youth from across the state of Minnesota. Measures include tobacco use, smoking behaviors of parents and friends, youth smoking-related attitudes and beliefs, and home smoking policies. A cohort-sequential design was used to identify smoking trajectories, including five cohorts of youth (ages 12-16) followed for 3 years. Results: Six distinct trajectories of tobacco use were found: nonsmokers (54%), triers (17%), occasional users (10%), early established (7%), late established (8%), and decliners (4%). Several factors were associated with increased likelihood of being in a smoking trajectory group (vs. the nonsmoking group): parental smoking, friend smoking, greater perceptions of the number of adults and teenagers who smoke, and higher functional meaning of tobacco use. In contrast, higher perceived difficulty smoking in public places, negative perceptions of the tobacco industry, and home smoking policies were associated with less likelihood of being in one of the smoking trajectories (vs. the nonsmoking trajectory). Conclusions: Adolescents exhibit diverse patterns of smoking during adolescence and tobacco-related influences were strong predictors of trajectory membership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-340
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Adolescent smoking
  • Smoking attitudes
  • Smoking trajectories
  • Social influences


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