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Study Examines Relationship between Smoking and Education

Update Date: May 21, 2014 03:34 PM EDT

Several studies examining smoking rates have repeatedly found that people who are more educated tend to not be smokers. However, these studies did not look into the relationship between education levels and smoking risk. In a new study, researchers from Yale University set out to uncover why this inequality exists. They found the link between the two factors could be explained by the choices people make during adolescence.

For this study, the research team analyzed available information on the histories of their participants, who were between the ages of 26 and 29 during the study. The data dated back 14 years when the participants were around 12 to 15-years-old. The researchers, headed by Vida Maralani, an assistant professor of sociology at Yale, found that early life experiences appear to affect the children's education levels later on in life. The researchers reported that factors, such as school policies, peers and expectations regarding one's future can all affect the decisions these adolescents make. The choices then influence their education level.

"This means that in order to reduce educational inequalities in smoking, we have to figure out exactly which characteristics before age 12 predict that a child will both not take up smoking and stay committed to school," Maralani said reported by Medical Xpress. "Overall, educational inequalities in adult smoking are better understood as a bundling of advantageous statuses that develops in childhood, rather than the effect of education producing better health."

The study, "Understanding the links between education and smoking," was published in the journal, Social Science Research.

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