April 27, 2017 – Familial and Special Twin Influences on Cigarette Use Initiation
Shared experiences within families play an important role in the initiation of cigarette use among adolescents. Behavioral genetic studies using various samples have implicated that the shared environment that twins experience is an important source of influence on whether adolescents initiate cigarette use. Whether the special twin environment, in addition to the shared environment, contributes significantly to making twin siblings more similar in cigarette initiation, and whether the influence of the special twin environment persists into adulthood, is less clear.
Data for this study came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. Twin, full-, and half-sibling pairs between the ages of 12 and 33 were separated into three age groups, with about 3,000 individuals in each age group. The proportion of variance in cigarette use initiation explained by genetic, shared, special twin, and unique environmental factors were examined.
The results of separate age-moderated univariate variance decomposition models indicate that the special twin environment does not significantly contribute to the variance in cigarette use initiation in adolescence or young adulthood.
Factors shared by individuals in a family, but that are not specific to being a twin, are important in determining whether adolescents will initiate the use of cigarettes.