When life is a drag: Depressive symptoms associated with early adolescent smoking

Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold, Erin Greco, Katherine Desmond, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Adolescent nicotine use continues to be a significant public health problem. We examined the relationship between the age of youth reporting current smoking and concurrent risk and protective factors in a large state-wide sample. We analyzed current smoking, depressive symptoms, and socio-demographic factors among 4027 adolescents aged 12-17 years by using multivariate logistic regression (see 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) Public Use File). Consistent with previous work, Latinos, girls, those whose family incomes were below the poverty level, and those with fair-poor health were more likely to display depressive symptoms. Males, whites, older teens, and those in fair-poor health were more likely to be current smokers. In a multivariate analysis predicting depressive symptoms, the interaction between age and current smoking was highly significant (Wald X2 = 15.8, p < 0.01). At ages 12-14 years, the probability of depressive symptoms was estimated to be four times greater among adolescents who currently smoked compared to those who were not current smokers. The likelihood of depressive symptoms associated with current smoking decreases with age and becomes nonsignificant by 17 years. Interventions to reduce smoking may be most useful among youth before 12 years of age and must be targeted at multiple risks (e.g., smoking and depression).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalVulnerable Children and Youth Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • depressive symptoms
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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