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© 2018 The Authors Objective: Psychotic experiences (PE) are dimensional phenomena in the general population that resemble psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia and hallucinations. This is the first twin study to explore the degree to which tobacco use and PE share genetic or environmental influences. Previous studies on the association between adolescent tobacco use and PE have not considered PE dimensionally, included negative symptoms, or accounted for confounding by sleep disturbance and stressful life events. Method: An unselected adolescent twin sample (N = 3,787 pairs; mean age = 16.16 years) reported on PE (paranoia, hallucinations, cognitive disorganization, grandiosity, and anhedonia) and regularity of tobacco use. Parents rated the twins’ negative symptoms. Regression analyses were conducted while adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, prenatal maternal smoking, cannabis use, sleep disturbance, and stressful life events. Bivariate twin modeling was used to estimate the degree of genetic and common and unique environmental influences shared between tobacco use and PE. Results: Regular smokers were significantly more likely to experience paranoia, hallucinations, cognitive disorganization, and negative symptoms (β = 0.17−0.34), but not grandiosity or anhedonia, than nonsmokers, after adjustment for confounders. Paranoia, hallucinations, and cognitive disorganization correlated ≥0.15 with tobacco use (r = 0.15−0.21, all p <.001). Significant genetic correlations (rA=0.37−0.45) were found. Genetic influences accounted for most of the association between tobacco use and paranoia (84%) and cognitive disorganization (81%). Familial influences accounted for 80% of the association between tobacco use and hallucinations. Conclusion: Tobacco use and PE during adolescence were associated after adjustment for confounders. They appear to co-occur largely because of shared genetic influences.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Publication Date





267 - 276.e8