Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



J Subst Abus Alcohol. ; 1(1): 1001–.


© 2013 Soulakova et al.


Early onset of smoking is associated with heavier tobacco consumption and longer smoking careers. Consequently, obtaining accurate estimates of early smoking is a priority. The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of proxy reports of the age of smoking initiation, and specifically to explore whether there are differences in the consistency of proxy-reported and self-reported smoking behaviors. Data came from the 2002–2003 Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey, where the current smoking behaviors and smoking history of participants were reported by self-and proxy-respondents on two occasions, one year apart. Sequential multiple-testing methods were used to assess significance of the differences in reported prevalence of consistent reports among specific sub-populations defined by age, gender and survey administration mode. Results indicated that self-reports are more reliable (more consistent over time) than proxy reports or mixed reports that include self-report at one time point and proxy reports at another. The rate of perfect agreement was also highest for self-reports. The impact of respondent type on the consistency of reports also depended on the target subjects’ age and the survey administration mode (phone or in-person).

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