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.
Now, they expend those brain cells trying to figure out where the morons in charge of the universe might "let" them do that.
Yeah, we pretty much only had white kids too, but the cool ones weren’t the ones smoking.
“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. “
That’s because they assume that if you think something is stupid therefore you are for banning it or taxing it into oblivion.
I think nyan cat and most of what’s on the internet is pretty stupid but that doesn’t mean I want the government to ban it.
Great post! Thanks for your continued thoughtful inputs to FR.
“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.”
Had the same thing at my high school, in the 70s, what was up with that? Smoking being illegal for those under 18.
In his case he is for banning it and taxing it into oblivion. How he has survived on FR is still a mystery to many of us.
I wouldn’t be surprised if public schools had designated scr*ing areas for minors.
No, this unbelievable hysteria is a fairly recent phenomenon.
Huckleberry Finn smoked a corncob pipe and I was able to smoke in the hallways of the schools and everywhere else outside the classrooms when I was in Jr. High and High School. In College, we were allowed to smoke INSIDE the classrooms.
For those of you thinking I am a fossil; this was the late '60's and early '70's.
My wife, myself, the obstetrician and the attending nurse all smoked in the delivery room when my kids were born in 1982 and 1984.
Control freaks with nothing else to do recently changed all of that for no good reason.
Yep. It was true 30 years ago when I started smoking as a teenager and it seems to be true today.
On a related note, give me some time and I'll bet I could find a paparazzi photo of every single pop/movie star that is famous with kids today puffing on a cigarette (with the possible exception of Taylor Swift).
Maybe in the 2nd Obama term they can revert things back.
“Kids today are trying to be ‘cool’. What they would call ‘groovy’ in their psychedelic lingo. When they and their ‘hip’ friends go to an Occupy protest, they spend their time sipping lattes, eating croissants and talking about their newfangled ‘video games’. They aren’t tough. They don’t know what tough is.
“Back in my day in the riots of the 1960’s, we knew what tough was. And during out protests, all we had to eat was the cold stench of mild discomfort, washed down with restroom sink water!”
When I first moved up to Nevada for school, cloves were all the rage (and this is college kids not high school kids). It seemed every single kid in the state smoked them. It was not legal to sell them in Nevada. So the cool thing to do was to drive to California and stock up on them.
Not so long afterward, cloves were made legal to sell in the state of Nevada, and almost overnight kids stopped smoking them.
Any lesson there?
That is exactly what Drango wants. He has stated it a hundred times or more.
“Smoking being illegal for those under 18.”
Technically, and I think I can be wrong on this, I do not believe it is illegal for minors to smoke. I believe it is simply illegal to sell, or otherwise give tobacco to them.
Smoking area in my high school as well.
It has only been in the last 15 years or so that smoking became an activity restricted only to adults. Prior to that, anyone could smoke --much like anyone of any age today today can drink caffeine. As a fourth-grader, my mom used to give me a couple of bucks and send my on my bike to the grocery store to buy her two packs of Now 100s. Nobody batted an eye. There were plenty of 13-14 year old "freaks" as we called them in Junior High smoking at the bus stop. It was perfectly legal (and many of these "freaks" are engineers now).
Believe it or not, there was a time when 18-year old high school seniors could legally drink beer.
Now we've raised the smoking age to 18, the drinking age to 21 and the age of full independence to 26. And we wonder why we have full-grown men and women behaving like adolescents?
45 years ago maybe. LOL
I was thinking of the hilarious “blue boy” scene from Dragnet.
C'mon daddy-o! Today's cats are hip to what's swell!
Thanks Laz, well said and worth repeating...
Are those “losers” now in jail or on the dole,or even dead?
Might be interesting to do a follow up and see how they turned out.
Dragnet? My bad, I should have said 53 years ago.
It was a cool scene until the fuzz showed up. Then we had to cheese it!
How does one move ‘up to’ Nevada, unless if from Latin America?
There are two diehards that smoke on the sidewalk.
Uhh, Nevada is not a border state. Besides I moved 500 miles north, which I consider up. But as far as latitude, much of california, most of arizona, new mexico, texas, florida are further south than even Las Vegas
Ha ha—East Coaster here who has been to Las Vegas many times. Don’t know what I was thinking. (Other than that it’s down from me.)
In most places you are correct. A few states may have made it illegal for them to smoke as well, but I'm not sure off top of my head.
When all the usual suspects - cancer society, lung association, etc. wanted to raise the age for purchase to 18 in Delaware, language was also included to make it illegal for them to smoke as well. Guess who had that language removed? Yup, the lung association, cancer society, etc. They claimed it was unfair to the little kiddies because they were "addicts."
These nannies make my head spin.
When I was in high school(when dinosaurs ruled the world) the major groups were greasers, soc's, jocks and the rest of us. It was the greasers that smoked.
Then maybe they ought to consider that teenagers don't like being manipulated by THEM.
I hate public health nazis.
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