Background—Among early adolescents in the United States (U.S.), the prevalence of cigarette smoking is at its lowest level in recent decades. Nonetheless, given the risks of smoking in early development, it remains critically important to study both risk factors for smoking and risks from smoking. This longitudinal study with U.S. early adolescents examines smoking initiation and tests a model of reciprocal prediction between ever smoking and the personality trait of urgency (i.e., mood-based impulsivity), a trait that increases risk for multiple forms of dysfunction.

Methods—Participants (n=1906; 90% 10–11 years old, 50% female, 39% racial minorities at baseline) completed questionnaires 1–2 times per year starting in 5th grade and ending in 9th grade. Structural equation modeling allowed tests of bidirectional relationships between ever smoking and urgency controlling for pubertal status and negative affect at each wave.

Results—Incidence of ever smoking increased from 5% to 27% over time, with current smoking around 5% at the last wave. Urgency at each wave predicted ever smoking at the next wave above and beyond covariates and prior smoking (all p < .01). Likewise, with one exception, ever smoking predicted an increase in urgency at the subsequent wave above and beyond covariates and prior urgency (all p < .05).

Conclusion—Results show that risk for smoking increases with higher levels of urgency and urgency increases secondary to engagement in smoking. Future work should therefore explore urgency as a point of prevention for smoking and smoking cessation as a means to mitigate mood-based impulsivity.

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Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, v. 178, p. 519-526.

© 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers R01 AA016166 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to G.T. Smith and K07 CA181351 from the National Cancer Institute to J.L. Burris).