Poularity is one indicator of possible teen smoking


Popular students in at least seven Southern California high schools are more likely to smoke cigarettes than their less popular peers. Popularity can be bad for your health.

Popularity strong predictor of cigarette smoking

“That we’re still seeing this association more than 10 years later, despite marginal declines in smoking, suggests that popularity is a strong predictor of smoking behavior,” said Thomas W. Valente, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author of three other studies on the same topic.

The survey asked extensive questions about peer groups

The research team asked almost 2000 students in the ninth and tenth grades whether they had tried smoking, how frequently they had smoked in the last month, how many students they thought were smoked, how their friends viewed their smoking behavior, and who their five best friends were. Popularity was determined by the number of times a name showed up on the friend list.

Those kid who believed their friends smoked were more likely to smoke themselves. This was true even if they were wrong. Popular students became smokers earlier than less popular students. Smokers became friends with other smokers.

Similar findings in schools in Mexico

In 2005 Valente and his team found similar findings at a school in Mexico. Two other studies across Southern California in 2005 and 2001 reported similar smoking patterns. “Adolescence is a time when students turn to others to figure out what is important. These are four different samples, now, coming from different places – and the finding is consistent,” concluded Valente.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Southern California


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