Aims To investigate the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors on smoking trajectory membership and to test whether individual smoking trajectories represent phenotypical thresholds of increasing genetic risk along a common genetic liability dimension. Design Prospective study of a birth cohort of female like-sex twin pairs. Setting Participants completed diagnostic interview surveys four times from adolescence (average age 16) to young adulthood (average age 25). Participants Female twins who had smoked ≥100 cigarettes life-time (n=1466 regular smokers). Measurements Number of cigarettes smoked per day during the heaviest period of smoking (two waves) or during the past 12 months (two waves). Findings A four-trajectory class solution provided the best fit to cigarette consumption data and was characterized by low (n=564, 38.47%), moderate (n=366, 24.97%) and high-level smokers (n=197, 13.44%), and smokers who increased their smoking from adolescence to young adulthood (n=339, 23.12%). The best genetic model fit was a three-category model that comprised the low, a combined increasing+moderate and high trajectories. This trajectory categorization was heritable (72.7%), with no evidence for significant contribution from shared environmental factors. Conclusions The way in which smoking patterns develop in adolescence has a high level of heritability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1696-1704
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Growth mixture models
  • Heritability
  • Liability threshold models
  • Smoking trajectories
  • Substance use
  • Twins.


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