Number of pages
SourceNicotine & Tobacco Research, 19, 4, (2017), pp. 401-409
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
Nicotine & Tobacco Research
Introduction. Previous studies in adolescents were not adequately powered to accurately disentangle genetic and environmental influences on smoking initiation across adolescence. Methods. Mega-analysis of pooled genetically informative data on smoking initiation was performed, with structural equation modeling, to test equality of prevalence and correlations across cultural backgrounds, and to estimate the significance and effect size of genetic and environmental effects according to the classical twin study, in adolescent male and female twins from same-sex and opposite-sex twin pairs (N=19 313 pairs) between age 10 and 19, with 76 358 longitudinal assessments between 1983 and 2007, from 11 population-based twin samples from the US, Europe and Australia. Results. Although prevalences differed between samples, twin correlations did not, suggesting similar etiology of smoking initiation across developed countries. The estimate of additive genetic contributions to liability of smoking initiation increased from approximately 15% to 45% from age 13 to 19. Correspondingly, shared environmental factors accounted for a substantial proportion of variance in liability to smoking initiation at age 13 (70%) and gradually less by age 19 (40%). Conclusions. Both additive genetic and shared environmental factors significantly contribute to variance in smoking initiation throughout adolescence. The present study, the largest genetic epidemiological study on smoking initiation to date, found consistent results across 11 studies for the etiology of smoking initiation. Environmental factors, especially those shared by siblings in a family, primarily influence smoking initiation variance in early adolescence, while an increasing role of genetic factors is seen at later ages, which has important implications for prevention strategies. IMPLICATIONS: This is the first study to find evidence of genetic factors in liability to smoking initiation at ages as young as 12. It also shows the strongest evidence to date for decay of effects of the shared environment from early adolescence to young adulthood. We found remarkable consistency of twin correlations across studies reflecting similar etiology of liability to initiate smoking across different cultures and time periods. Thus familial factors strongly contribute to individual differences in who starts to smoke with a gradual increase in the impact of genetic factors and a corresponding decrease in that of the shared environment.
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