Teens start smoking for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest
influences on whether they become regular smokers is their
friends, concludes a new study.
Kids who had at least three friends who were regular smokers
were 24 times more likely to become regular smokers themselves,
according to the study, which was published in a recent issue of
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
This study confirms what most parents already knew-if you're
around kids who are a bad influence, you pick [their habits] up.
The tobacco industry "assists" in drafting tobacco control
legislation and carrying out education and advocacy projects
purportedly to help prevent young people from using its
Having friends who smoked was far and away the biggest risk
factor for the progression of teen smoking from experimental to
intermittent or regular smoking. Other important factors were
alcohol use, parental smoking, depression and feeling alienated
Teens who drank alcohol more than twice a month were nine times
more likely to start smoking than abstinent kids. Teens with
fathers who smoked had a 26 percent higher risk of becoming
smokers themselves. Interestingly, maternal smoking only seemed
to have an effect on daughters, increasing their risk of smoking
by 36 percent.
Kids from close families were 9 percent less likely to smoke.
The authors say that by knowing which kids are most at risk,
prevention efforts can be better targeted to the kids who need
Parents need to know who their kids' friends are and they need
to talk to the other parents as well.
parents see any signs of their teen smoking, they need to "make
an attempt to help kids stop smoking before it becomes too
pernicious a habit.