Skip to comments.Smokers Are Still High School’s ‘Cool Kids,’ Study Finds
Posted on 09/07/2012 11:58:21 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Peer pressure continues to prompt high school students to light up, new research suggests, because popular teens tend to smoke and they induce others to take up the habit in an effort to fit in and be liked.
Popularity is a strong predictor of smoking, said study author Thomas Valente, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern Californias Keck School of Medicine. We havent done enough to make it cool not to smoke.
The finding, published online Sept. 6 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, confirms trends Valente found in previous research studying smoking in students in sixth through 12th grade across the United States and in Mexico.
The new research found that the most popular kids in seven predominantly Hispanic/Latino high schools in southern California were more likely to smoke cigarettes than were other students. It turns out that just thinking your friends are smokerseven if they arentmakes you more likely to smoke. And the more popular you are, the earlier youre likely to start.
Its the popularity thats a risk factor for smoking, and its very disturbing, said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association and a professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, in New York.
According to the American Lung Association, 68 percent of adult smokers started at age 18 or younger, and every day almost 3,900 children under 18 try their first cigarette. People who start smoking in adolescence are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than are those who start later.
The researchers asked 1,950 students in the ninth and 10th grades in 2006 and 2007 whether they had ever tried smoking, how often they smoked in the past month, how many students they thought smoked cigarettes and how they thought their close friends felt about smoking. They also asked the teens to identify their five best friends at school, a question designed to reveal the students social networks.
Popularity was measured by how often the students named someone as a friend. Those who thought their close friends smoked were more likely to be smokers, too, and those who smoked tended to form friendships with others who smoked as well.
Kids tend to be more interested in what their immediate friends are doing than in what most students are doing in their school, the study found. The researchers also discovered that students cared more about whether their particular group of friends smoked than whether they believed most people in their high school lit up.
Valente said the research shows that parents should be wary of encouraging their kids to try to fit in. We always want our kids to be popular, but theres a liability to that. By being popular youre more aware of other things that are happening around you and you want to be sure to retain that popularity, which in and of itself is stressful.
Popularity is probably a risk factor for other behaviors that can spread through schools, including binge drinking, risky sexual activities and some unhealthy eating behaviors, Valente added.
How can adults counteract the impact of popularity on kids when it comes to smoking? Valente said kids need to be told that the tobacco industry is manipulating them to smoke, since teenagers dont like to be manipulated. He also said research shows it is effective to recruit popular kids to discuss why smoking is not cool.
Edelman said the solution may be pocketbook-based. Kids are prone to risky behavior because they feel immortal. The most tried-and-true method, especially with adolescents, is to raise the price of cigarettes.
Nanny State PING!
teen point of view —> * banning a product * * putting a legal age on it * etc. makes it sexy to use those products
Exactly. They’d do a better job of stopping teen smoking if they made an after school special about how awesome smoking was and made everyone watch that in health class.
We had an officially sanctioned smoking area between wings of a high school. Every day we’d walk by a bunch of miserable looking losers standing outside in appalling weather so they could earn bad breath that could be detected two classrooms away.
Unsurprisingly, the number of smokers never increased and probably decreased thanks to this ‘bad example’ model which far surpassed the lazy adult peer pressure excuse.
Right, because kids can't afford expensive things.
Like cocaine, marijuana, Ipads and cars.
Effin' moneygrabbing moron is all this guy is.
Can't have those free thinkers and disrespectors of authority going around doing whatever they want.
Next thing you know, they'll all be thrusting their pelvises around at us in public like that Elvis guy.
Largely 'cause adults have turned a blind eye to the addiction of youth, society will continue to vote to increase the cost of smoking. Bummer.
ECON 101 still wins. An increase in the price of an item, will decrease demand.
I always viewed the students that smoked as the stupid kids.
My opinion hasn’t changed much over the years.
Maybe they realize if they smoke, they can grow up to become President.
That certainly wasn’t the case in my school.
I suppose we also had virtually zero Hispanic population.
Ha ha—we had something like that at my school too!
“Exactly. Theyd do a better job of stopping teen smoking if they made an after school special about how awesome smoking was and made everyone watch that in health class.”
A great idea!
The harder they try to make it cool to not smoke the cooler it will be to smoke. Teenagers have a natural rebellious instinct. They should start handing out free smokes for good grades, that would make it nerdy to smoke and kids won’t want to.
Well yeah, but that doesn't go over well on the smoking threads. Pointing out the fact that smoking is highly negatively correlated with education (and income) only gets you insulted by certain zealots.
The question is, however, should government be making all this money off of addicted teens? Isn’t that a form of exploitation?
The smokers at my high school were mainly white kids. Of course, when the student body is majority white...
One of these statements stands out like a steaming pile of horse manure. LOL
I was just talking to my daughter about this yesterday, a square with trees and ashtrays between the gym and cafeteria. It is unbelievable that they had a smoking area for minors.