In a multigenerational study of smoking risk, the objective was to investigate the intergenerational transmission of smoking by examining if exposure to parental smoking and nicotine dependence predicts prospective smoking trajectories among adolescent offspring.


Adolescents (n = 406) ages 12 to 17 and a parent completed baseline interviews (2001–2004), and adolescents completed up to 2 follow-up interviews 1 and 5 years later. Baseline interviews gathered detailed information on parental smoking history, including timing and duration, current smoking, and nicotine dependence. Adolescent smoking and nicotine dependence were assessed at each time point. Latent Class Growth Analysis identified prospective smoking trajectory classes from adolescence into young adulthood. Logistic regression was used to examine relationships between parental smoking and adolescent smoking trajectories.


Four adolescent smoking trajectory classes were identified: early regular smokers (6%), early experimenters (23%), late experimenters (41%), and nonsmokers (30%). Adolescents with parents who were nicotine-dependent smokers at baseline were more likely to be early regular smokers (odds ratio 1.18, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.33) and early experimenters (odds ratio 1.04, 95% confidence interval 1.04–1.25) with each additional year of previous exposure to parental smoking. Parents’ current non-nicotine–dependent and former smoking were not associated with adolescent smoking trajectories.


Exposure to parental nicotine dependence is a critical factor influencing intergenerational transmission of smoking. Adolescents with nicotine-dependent parents are susceptible to more intense smoking patterns and this risk increases with longer duration of exposure. Research is needed to optimize interventions to help nicotine-dependent parents quit smoking early in their children’s lifetime to reduce these risks.

You do not currently have access to this content.