Popular kids more likely to smoke, research says

2012-09-11T01:30:00Z Popular kids more likely to smoke, research says Montana Standard
September 11, 2012 1:30 am

LOS ANGELES (MCT) — Popular children are more likely to smoke cigarettes, according to new research.

The conclusion, published Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is based on surveys among teenagers in ninth and 10th grades at seven predominantly Latino high schools in the Los Angeles area. It confirms previous studies about high school students in the U.S. and Mexico.

Thomas Valente, a professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, and colleagues asked 1,950 students whether they had tried smoking and how frequently they’d smoked in the last month. They also asked the students how they thought their friends felt about smoking, the smoking habits of their peers, and who their five best friends were. The frequency a student was identified as a friend was used to measure popularity.

Among ninth graders, 25.6 percent reported smoking; among 10th-graders, it was 28.1 percent.

The researchers found that students’ perceptions of their peers’ behavior mattered as much as whether they actually smoked.

If you thought all the antismoking messages had made smoking less popular, that’s true. But it’s also still true in many places that smoking and popularity go hand-in-hand, Valente said.

“I think that varies quite a bit,” he said. “In some neighborhoods, that’s true, but in most neighborhoods that’s not true. Smoking is still being marketed as a sign of maturity.” And adolescence is a time when “anything we’ve said to them in the past can be open to re-evaluation,” Valente said. It’s also a time when students turn to their peers to decide what’s important.

The fact that the students were in an urban area and were mostly from one ethnicity might mean the results could differ in other situations, the researchers said.

But the peer influence “was consistently and strongly associated with individual smoking,” he said. What surprised him, he said, was “how robust the finding is.”

“One of the things we’ve never been able to tease out is whether that’s simply a function of being exposed earlier” through friends, he said. The current study controlled for that question, he said.

Parents who want their children to be popular, Valente said, might remember that the status “comes at a certain cost.”

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us at editor@mtstandard.com.

If your comment was removed or isn't appearing online, perhaps:

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).
  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.
  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.
  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.
  5. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.
  6. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.
  7. Your comment is in really poor taste.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick