Symptoms of tobacco dependence among middle and high school tobacco users: Results from the 2012 national youth tobacco survey

Benjamin J. Apelberg, Catherine G. Corey, Allison C. Hoffman, Megan J. Schroeder, Corinne G. Husten, Ralph S. Caraballo, Cathy L. Backinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background A growing body of evidence suggests that tobacco dependence symptoms can occur soon after smoking onset and with low levels of use. However, limited data are available nationally and among non-cigarette tobacco users. Purpose To examine the prevalence and determinants of tobacco dependence symptoms among adolescent tobacco users in the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a nationally representative, school-based survey of U.S. middle and high school students. Methods Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of dependence symptoms among current users (i.e., past 30-day use) of cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco. Analyses were conducted in 2013 using SAS-callable SUDAAN, version 11 to account for the complex survey design. Results Prevalence of tobacco dependence symptoms ranged from 20.8% (95% CI=18.6, 23.1) of current tobacco users reporting wanting to use tobacco within 30 minutes of waking to 41.9% (95% CI=39.3, 44.5) reporting recent strong cravings. Reporting of dependence symptoms was most consistently associated with polytobacco use, higher frequency of use, earlier initiation age, and female gender. A 2-4-fold increase in the odds of symptom reporting was found in adolescents using tobacco products on as few as 3-5 days compared to those who only used it for 1-2 of the past 30 days. Conclusions A substantial proportion of U.S. adolescent tobacco users, including those with low levels of use, report symptoms of tobacco dependence. These findings demonstrate the need for full implementation of evidence-based strategies to prevent both experimentation and progression to regular tobacco use among youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S4-S14
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number2 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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