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Defining Cigarette Smoking Status in Young Adults: A Comparison of Adolescent vs Adult Measures

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Objective: To determine the agreement between 2 measures (adult vs adolescent) of current cigarette smoking among young adults.

Methods: We examined data from 1007 young adults from the New Jersey Adult Tobacco Survey. The adult measure incorporates lifetime and present use, whereas the adolescent measure assesses past 30-day use. The kappa coefficient was used to determine agreement between the 2 current cigarette smoking measures.

Results: Agreement between the measures was high, but not ideal. The percent reporting smoking in the past 30 days but not 100 cigarettes in their lifetime was notably higher, and therefore agreement was lower, for black females, Hispanic males, and college students living on campus.

Conclusions: Sole use of the adult or adolescent measure of current cigarette smoking is insufficient to document progression to regular smoking in young adults.

Keywords: cigarette smoking; initiation; measurement; young adults

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Health Education and Behavioral Science, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, School of Public Health, Piscataway, NJ. 2: Department of Environmental and Community Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ.

Publication date: July 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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