Empirical support for a multi-dimensional model of sensations experienced by youth during their initial smoking episodes

Chris G. Richardson, Chizimuzo T.C. Okoli, Pamela A. Ratner, Joy L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Aims: To examine the dimensionality of sensations experienced during initial tobacco smoking. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Thirteen secondary schools located in British Columbia, Canada. Participants: Data from 1187 adolescents who responded 'yes' to the question: 'Have you ever tried cigarette smoking, even one or two puffs?'. Measurements: Participants answered questions about their demographic characteristics, tobacco smoking history and sensations experienced during their initial smoking episodes. Findings: The sensations appear to represent the following three separate but modestly correlated dimensions: a pleasant dimension defined by feeling good and relaxed; an unpleasant dimension defined by coughing, feeling sick and nervous; and a 'buzz' dimension defined by feeling high and dizzy. The three factors made statistically significant contributions to the prediction of transition to regular smoking (defined as having smoked at least 100 cigarettes in one's life-time) after adjusting for age, sex and age at first puff. Conclusions: The results suggest that three relatively distinct physiological systems appear to explain the relationship between initial smoking sensations and probability of becoming a regular smoker. Researchers examining sensations experienced during initial tobacco smoking episodes should consider using a three-dimensional profile of symptoms composed of pleasant, unpleasant and buzz dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1827-1834
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • adolescent
  • factor analysis
  • initial sensations
  • tobacco smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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