National Cancer Institute Home at the National Institutes of Health | www.cancer.gov

Publication Abstract

Authors: Weinkam JJ, Sterling TD

Title: Age related changes in age of starting to smoke.

Journal: J Clin Epidemiol 43(2):133-40

Date: 1990

Abstract: The Average Age of Starting to Smoke (AASS) has been reported to decline for younger birth cohorts. That apparent decline has been used to support a conclusion of an increase in smoking among younger individuals. However, in some cases the apparent decline is an artifact of the method of computation which arises when the quantity being averaged is related to a quantity used to classify subjects for comparison. In one other case, a second type of error arises because the distribution of smoking initiation with age changed in such a way that the proportion of individuals taking up smoking at older ages declined more rapidly than the proportion starting at younger ages. In fact, comparison of the 1970 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to the 1979/80 NHIS shows a uniform decrease in starting to smoke among teens and preteens. Examples are discussed which show that estimates of possible disease related factors actually experienced by a cohort are possible only if other suitable data are available for comparable representative sections of the population at different time periods and for different ages.

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2013