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Study: ‘Popular’ Kids More Likely To Smoke

Despite the fact that public health advocates have fought to prevent Big Tobacco from marketing tobacco products to children, new research suggests the “smoking is cool” messages may still hold some influence over today’s youth. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that popularity is positively correlated with smoking among California high schoolers. Researchers asked ninth and tenth graders in Southern California high schools to describe their smoking habits, perceptions of smoking, and five best friends at school. The frequency that respondents were named as a friend by the other participants in the study determined their popularity, and researchers found that popular students became smokers earlier than the less popular students. Respondents were also more likely to smoke if they believed their friends did, whether or not that perception was actually true. The lead researcher pointed out that his findings correlate with findings from previous studies on the same topic. “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,” he said.

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