Adolescents report both positive and negative consequences of experimentation with cigarette use

Sonya S. Brady, Anna V. Song, Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the physiological and social consequences that 9th and 10th grade adolescents experience as a result of experimenting with cigarette use, and whether consequences vary by level of experimentation and gender. Method: Data were collected between 2001 and 2004 from 395 adolescents attending two northern California public high schools. Analyses are limited to 155 adolescents who reported puffing on cigarettes or smoking whole cigarettes at any of four time points during the study. Results: The percentage of adolescents reporting consequences of smoking was as follows: any positive consequence (56%), felt relaxed (46%), looked cool (31%), looked grown-up (27%), became popular (17%), any negative consequence (56%), friends were upset (35%), trouble catching breath (29%), bad cough (26%), and got into trouble (23%). Ten percent of adolescents reported only experiencing negative consequences, 11% reported only positive consequences, 45% reported both negative and positive consequences, and 34% reported no consequences. Greater levels of experimentation were associated with greater likelihood of reporting positive or negative consequences. Few gender differences emerged. Conclusion: Adolescents experience both positive and negative consequences of experimentation with cigarette use. Prevention and intervention efforts should acknowledge that positive consequences of smoking may occur and address how these consequences can be achieved through other behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-590
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants awarded to Dr. Halpern-Felsher from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, Office of the President, University of California (#9K-0072), the UCSF Academic Senate Committee on Research, and the Raschen-Tiedenann Fund from the Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee, School of Medicine, UCSF. Dr. Brady's preparation of this manuscript was funded through a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32 MH019391) while she was a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF. Dr. Song was funded through the National Cancer Institute (CA-113710). We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Rhonda Y. Kropp, B.S.N., M.P.H., and Jodi L. Cornell, M.A., M.S.W. We are also grateful to the study participants, their parents, and the school teachers and administrators who contributed to the study.


  • Adolescence
  • Benefits
  • Cigarettes
  • Consequences
  • Costs
  • Decision-making
  • Experimentation
  • Risk behavior
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco use


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