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Does Smoking Initiation in Adolescence Increase Risk for Depression Across the Lifespan?


The association between smoking and depression has been well stated in the literature. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are still unclear. Recent research using an animal model suggests that even low-level nicotine exposure during adolescence has long-lasting effects on the development of depression. This study aims to examine the association between smoking initiation and depression analyzing secondary data. A sample that is representative of the South Korean adult population was selected from the Fourth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected from 2007 to 2009 (N = 18,406). Regardless of life stage of smoking initiation, smokers had greater risk for depression in adulthood than nonsmokers after adjusting for demographics and other depression-related covariates. The results indicate that, with regard to risk for depression, it is important to prevent smoking initiation at any life stage. Successful implementation of smoking prevention strategies should lead to enhanced mental (i.e., reduced risk for depression) as well as physical health of adults in the long run.