Public Health Resources


Date of this Version



Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adult Smoking, Nebraska, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2013; 10: 130009. DOl: http ://dx .doLorg/10.5888/pcd10.130009


US government work


Introduction Smoking is a public health risk; the prevalence of smoking among adults in Nebraska is 18-4%. Studies indicate that maltreatment of children alters their brain development, possibly increasing risk for tobacco use. Previous studies have documented associations between childhood maltreatment and adult health behaviors, demonstrating the influence of adverse experiences on tobacco use. We examined prevalence and associations between adverse childhood experiences and smoking among Nebraskans.

Methods We analyzed 2011 Nebraska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (Adverse Childhood Experience module) data, defining adverse childhood experience exposures as physical, sexual, and verbal abuse (ie, direct exposures), and household dysfunction associated with mental illness, substance abuse, divorce, domestic violence, and living with persons with incarceration histories (ie, environmental exposures). We estimated prevalence of exposures, taking into account the complex survey design. We used logistic regression with predicted margins to estimate adjusted relative risk for smoking by direct or environmental exposure.

Results Approximately 51% of Nebraskans experienced 1 or more adverse childhood events; 7% experienced 5 or more. Prevalence of environmental exposures (42%) was significantly higher than that of direct exposures (31%). Prevalence of individual exposures ranged from 6% (incarceration of a household member) to 25% (verbal abuse). Adjusted relative risks of smoking for direct and environmental exposures were 1.5 and 1.8, respectively.

Conclusion We present a new method of evaluating adverse childhood experience data. Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences is high among Nebraskans, and these exposures are associated with smoking. State-specific strategies to monitor adverse events among children and provide interventions might help to decrease the smoking rate in this population.