Peer Influence Top Factor In Teen Smoking   

Peer Influence Top Factor In Teen Smoking


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 the 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 products.

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 from school.

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 it most.

Parents need to know who their kids' friends are and they need to talk to the other parents as well. If 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.


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