Non-smoking youths' "perceived" addiction to tobacco is associated with their susceptibility to future smoking

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Smoking initiation places adolescents at risk for adult onset diseases, including heart disease, respiratory illness, and cancer. Adolescents that smoke have levels of 'perceived' tobacco addiction that are associated with several measures of nicotine dependence. Nonsmoking adolescents also report feeling addicted to tobacco even with minimal or no prior tobacco use, suggesting some vulnerability to tobacco use. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between perceived tobacco addiction and smoking susceptibility among adolescents with very minimal tobacco use. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted of data obtained from 5155 nonsmokers who completed the British Columbia Youth Survey of Smoking and Health II, a school-based survey conducted during 2004. Measures included demographics, tobacco use (ever puffed a cigarette), substance use (marijuana and alcohol), exposure to family members' smoking in the home, peers' tobacco use, depressive symptoms, perceived physical and mental addiction to tobacco, and smoking susceptibility. The adolescents who were most susceptible to smoking were female, younger and in a lower school grade; had ever puffed a cigarette, had used alcohol or marijuana; had family members or peers who smoked; had higher depression scores, and higher perceived physical and mental addiction to tobacco. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, perceived mental addiction but not perceived physical addiction to tobacco was significantly associated with smoking susceptibility. Understanding factors associated with smoking initiation, and ways to identify "at- risk" adolescents can enhance early intervention and prevention programs. Perceived mental addiction to tobacco appears to be an important indicator of smoking susceptibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1016
Number of pages7
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) operating grant (grant #62980). Dr. C.T.C. Okoli was supported by an Integrated Mentor Program on Addictions Research Training (IMPART) Post-doctoral Traineeship and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), NEXUS Research Unit Post-doctoral Fellowship. Dr. C. G. Richardson was supported by CIHR and NEXUS Post-doctoral Fellowships. Dr. P. A. Ratner is a Senior Scholar funded by the MSFHR. Dr. J. L. Johnson was supported by a CIHR Investigator Award.


  • Adolescents
  • Susceptibility to smoking
  • Tobacco dependence
  • Tobacco use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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