The loss of autonomy over smoking in relation to lifetime cigarette consumption
New Zealand youth who had smoked only one cigarette had diminished autonomy over smoking. We sought to examine this issue in a US sample and examine the early onset of DSM-IV nicotine dependence. A self-administered survey was completed by 367 adolescent smokers in Massachusetts. Diminished autonomy was measured with the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist. Diminished autonomy was present in 5.7% of youth after one cigarette, in 9% after 2, in 26% after 3–4, in 44% after 5–9, in 43% after 10–19, in 67% after 20–99, and in 96% after 100 or more. DSM-IV nicotine dependence was absent in youth who had not smoked 10 cigarettes but was present in 9% after 10–19 cigarettes, in 17% after 20–99, and in 58% after 100 or more. Our data confirm the New Zealand study by showing diminished autonomy among subjects who had smoked only 1 or 2 cigarettes. Diminished autonomy after one or two cigarettes, and DSM-IV nicotine dependence after 10–19, support the sensitization-homeostasis theory of nicotine addiction that the addiction process is initiated by the first few cigarettes.