Background: Tobacco use remains one of the most used substances among adults globally and substantially impacts individuals and society. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) contribute to tobacco use. However, the association between cumulative ACEs and tobacco use behaviors (TUB) has not been established in the literature. In this review, we aimed to estimate the prevalence of ACEs among adult tobacco users and evaluated the relationship between cumulative ACEs and TUB. Methods: We identified original articles published before October 2022 by searching PubMed, CINAHL, and Psych INFO databases. Inclusion criteria were: English language, adults and used instruments assessing for cumulative ACEs defined as four or more ACEs. Results: Forty-two studies, totaling 674,087 participants; predominantly cohort and cross-sectional in study design (n = 33). Exposure to 4 ≥ ACEs was significantly associated with increasing the odds of current tobacco use (n = 35), ever or former tobacco use (n = 13), tobacco use initiation, (n = 3) nicotine dependence (n = 1), and ever using electronic cigarettes (n = 1). In the meta-analysis, as compared to those without ACEs, those with 4 ≥ ACEs were twice as likely to have ever used tobacco (OR = 2.16, 95 %CI:1.73–2.70) and approximately four times more likely to have used tobacco currently (OR = 3.73, 95 %CI:2.69–5.18). Conclusion: The cumulative ACEs exposure can increase the risk for TUB. However, the evidence is limited primarily to cigarette use. Ongoing research into the effects of cumulative ACEs on TUB is needed to integrate trauma-informed intervention in treating tobacco use and guide public health initiatives aimed to reduce the prevalence of ACEs and TUB among adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107948
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco use behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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