The researchers recruited 59 adolescents ages 12 to 14 in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area, with no history of substance use, to participate in the study. At the beginning of the study, the adolescents and their parents completed standardized questionnaires to assess the adolescents' aggression, hyperactivity, conduct problems, inattention, impulsivity, anxiety/depression, and social problems. Followup interviews were conducted at 4-month intervals for the next 2 years, and researchers recorded if and when the adolescents began smoking as well as how often they smoked.Family, school, social functioning, and substance use status also were updated.
The researchers found that more than 30 percent of the adolescents began smoking an average of 19 months after the study began. Adolescents who started smoking were more aggressive, more hyperactive, and tended to have more conduct problems upon entering the study than the adolescents who did not smoke.
Lead investigators Drs. Monique Ernst and Michelle K. Leff published this study in the September 2003 issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse. It was funded by NIDA and the American Psychiatric Association's Drug Abuse Research Scholars Program in Psychiatry.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and further information on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA web site at http://www.