Anyone who smokes or uses other forms of tobacco is at risk of becoming dependent. Factors that influence nicotine dependence include:

  • Genetics. The genes you inherit play a role in some aspects of nicotine dependence. The likelihood that you will start smoking and keep smoking may be partly inherited — genetic factors may influence how receptors on the surface of your brain's nerve cells respond to high doses of nicotine delivered by cigarettes.
  • Home and peer influence. Children who grow up with parents who smoke are more likely to become smokers. Children with friends who smoke also are more likely to try cigarettes. Evidence suggests that smoking shown in movies and on the Internet can encourage young people to smoke.
  • Age. Most people begin smoking during childhood or the teen years. The younger you begin smoking, the greater the chance that you'll become a heavy smoker as an adult.
  • Depression or other mental illness. People who have depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other forms of mental illness are more likely to be smokers.
  • Substance use. People who abuse alcohol and illegal drugs are more likely to be smokers.
Jun. 04, 2013