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Popular Students More Likely to Smoke: Study

Update Date: Sep 06, 2012 10:30 AM EDT

A new study claims that students, who are popular, are more likely to be smokers.

The findings of a study conducted by researchers from University of Southern California (USC) and University of Texas, have revealed that popular students are more likely to smoke cigarettes than their less popular counterparts.

For the study, the researchers observed students from seven Southern California high schools, who were between sixth and 12th grades across the United States and in Mexico.

"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," Thomas W. Valente, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and lead author of three prior studies on the subject was quoted as saying by Medical Xpress.

For the current study, the researchers quizzed 1,950 students in the ninth and 10th grades in October 2006 and 2007 on their first smoking experience (if at all), the frequency of smoking etc. They were also asked if they thought about their friends who smoke, how many kids of their age they thought smoked, etc.

A child's popularity was measured considering the number of students who referred to them as friends.  

The findings revealed that students, who thought that their close friends smoke, were more likely to smoke themselves even if their perception was wrong.

It was found that popular students had started smoking earlier than less popular students and it seems those who started smoking between the ninth and 10th grade had more friends who smoked.

"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," Valente said.

The study appears online this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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