The genetics of smoking initiation and quantity smoked in Dutch adolescent and young adult twins

J.R. Koopmans, W.S. Slutske, A.C. Heath, M.C. Neale, D.I. Boomsma

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Not much is known about the genetic and environmental determinants of various aspects of substance use in adolescents. This study examined whether the inheritance of initiation of tobacco use in adolescents is independent of the inheritance of the number of cigarettes smoked. Alternative multifactorial threshold models were applied to data on tobacco use in 1676 Dutch adolescent twin pairs. The three models that were considered are (i) the single liability dimension model, (ii) the independent liability dimension model, and (iii) the combined model (CM). The results showed that there is not one underlying continuum of liability to smoking. The CM was the best-fitting model. This model postulates that there are separate initiation and quantity dimensions but allows for the possibility that there are some individuals who are so low on the liability to level of consumption that they are not using tobacco. There were no differences between males and females in the magnitude of the genetic and environmental influences on individual differences in smoking initiation and quantity smoked. Smoking initiation was influenced by genetic factors (39%) and shared environmental influences (54%). Once smoking is initiated genetic factors determine to a large extent (86%) the quantity that is smoked.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-393
Number of pages11
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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