Popular Teens Pressured to Smoke Cigarettes
The more friends a student has, the more likely s/he is to smoke cigarettes. Findings from a recent report show that popular teens are succumbing to peer pressure to smoke cigarettes at a younger age.
Researchers from the Journal of Adolescent Health surveyed 1,950 ninth and 10th grade students to determine their personal thoughts about smoking and their thoughts about peers smoking. Report data show that a student’s risk of smoking is increased by the level of popularity s/he holds among peers. Popularity was measured by the number of times a student’s name was mentioned as a friend. An egocentric measure of behavior also proved that having friends who smoke leads to a strong association of individual smoking habits. Survey results found friend selection to be a major factor behind behavior habits; teens with friends who smoked were more susceptible to becoming a smoker themselves.
Continual evidence shows that popular kids choosing to light up are using their popularity to pressure other students to do the same. Peer pressure is a large indicator in adolescent behavior and “we haven’t done enough to make smoking un-cool” said study author Thomas Valente. Studies show that students will try what the majority is doing in order to be liked, and smoking is a popular, but negative, product of that behavior. If teens think smoking is the popular behavior among their peers, they will be more likely to try smoking.
Popularity is a risk factor for smoking and other detrimental behaviors, such as binge drinking, because popularity increases the potential of exposure to these negative behaviors. Parents want their children to be popular, but there’s a liability that comes with the extra awareness popularity brings, leading kids to a greater susceptibility of picking up smoking and other risky behaviors.
Kat Shannon is a Digital Communications intern at Prichard Communications, where she assists on several accounts, including Reclaiming Futures. She is a student at the University of Oregon studying Public Relations, with a minor in Business Administration. She is an Oregon native and a California dreamer.
*Photo at top by Flickr user nerissa's ring