The Role of Emotional Abuse in Youth Smoking Academic Article uri icon

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  • INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this prospective study is to examine the role of emotional abuse in predicting youth smoking. METHODS: Data were drawn from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect. The sample was restricted to those who had an interview at age 12 years and at least one interview at ages 14, 16, or 18 years (n=775). Self-reported smoking at ages 14, 16, and 18 years was the time-varying dependent variable. Peer and household smoking were modeled as time-varying predictors. Type of abuse, youth sex, race/ethnicity, history of child neglect, and study site were modeled as time-invariant predictors. Dates of data collection from age 4 years to age 18 years range from July 1991 to January 2012. Analyses were conducted in 2017. RESULTS: After controlling for a history of neglect, sex, race/ethnicity, study site, household and peer smoking, those with physical and/or sexual abuse only, or emotional abuse only, were at no greater risk of smoking compared with the no abuse group. However, those classified as having a combination of physical and/or sexual abuse and emotional abuse were at significantly greater risk for youth smoking compared with those with no reported physical/sexual or emotional abuse (β=0.51, z=2.43, p=0.015). CONCLUSIONS: Emotional abuse, in combination with physical and/or sexual abuse, predicted youth smoking, whereas the other types of abuse (physical and/or sexual abuse), or emotional abuse alone, did not. Considering the important health implications of early smoking initiation, it is important to document critical influential factors to better inform intervention efforts.


  • Lewis, Terri
  • Kotch, Jonathan
  • Proctor, Laura
  • Thompson, Richard
  • English, Diana
  • Smith, Jamie
  • Zolotor, Adam
  • Block, Stephanie
  • Dubowitz, Howard

publication date

  • January 2019