Purpose: To investigate the sensitivity to secondhand smoke exposure (SHSe) in preteens aged 8-13 years who have never smoked, and to determine whether it predicts smoking susceptibility. Methods: We assessed the sensitivity to SHSe using reactions commonly used for the assessment of sensitivity to the first-smoked cigarette (e.g., feeling dizzy), and investigated the factor structure of these reactions for the purpose of data reduction. We examined the association of each reaction measure and summary score with demographic characteristics and smoking susceptibility, using logistic regression and ordinal logistic regression. Results: One factor was identified that captured the physical and/or unpleasant reactions. Older preteens and preteens with more highly educated parents reported fewer reactions to SHSe. More African American preteens reported feeling relaxed or calm compared with all other racial/ethnic groups. Experiencing physical and/or unpleasant reactions to SHSe predicted lower risk for smoking susceptibility. Conclusions: This was the first study to extend analytical methodology for sensitivity to active smoking to sensitivity to SHSe in youth who had never smoked. Results suggest a desensitization process with age and lower sensitivity to some reactions in preteens from more highly educated households. Preteens who have more aversive experiences with SHSe tend to be less susceptible to smoking than those who experience fewer aversive reactions. Assessment of sensitivity to SHSe is a novel approach to the study of cigarette use etiology and may contribute to better prediction of smoking initiation. © 2011 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.
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