Posts Tagged teen smoking

Friends’ Influence to Smoke Stronger in Middle School Than in High School

We know peer pressure to drink, smoke, and try drugs is very much felt once an individual reaches his/her adolescent period. But a new study found that when it comes to smoking, friends’ influence is greater in middle school than in high school.

smoking in middle schoolResearchers from the University of Southern California looked into the data of more than 1,000 adolescents who took part in the Midwestern Prevention Project (MPP), a community-based substance abuse prevention program. They were surprised to find that friends’ influence to smoke has more effect in junior high than in high school.

“Based on social developmental model research, we thought friends would have more influence on cigarette use during high school than junior high school,” lead author Yue Liao, M.P.H., a doctoral student in the department of preventive medicine’s Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said in a news release. “But what we found was friends have greater influence during junior high school than high school. We think the reason may be that friends’ cigarette use behavior may have a stronger influence on youth who start smoking at a younger age. During high school, cigarette use might represent the maintenance of behavior rather than a result of peer influence.”

The researchers has also observed gender difference in friends’ and parental influence. Friends’ influence on cigarette smoking was higher for girls than boys during 9th and 10th grade. However, there was an increasing trend in friends’ influence from 9th to 11th among boys, whereas friends and parents had less influence on girls from 10th to 12th grade.

Liao said this could be explained by the fact that boys tend to foster friendship by engaging in shared behavior, while girls are more focused on emotional sharing.

The researchers hope their findings would pave the way for an improved intervention program in cigarette smoking primarily geared towards middle school students. Liao also recommends future study on sibling effects for a more complete picture of familial influence.

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Study Shows Children of Divorced Parents More Likely to Engage in Smoking

Time and again, health experts remind us about how a harmonious home can help in raising healthy kids. Children who grew in a violence- and drug-free home have high self-esteem and more resilient when struck with stress and adversities. Now there’s another reason why parents should strive hard in giving their kids a peaceful and loving household.

children of divorced parentsAccording to the researchers from the University of Toronto, children of divorced parents are at higher risk to develop smoking habit.

The researchers analyzed data of more than 19,000 American adults, and found that men who experienced parental divorce before they turned 18 are at 48 percent greater risk of smoking. Meanwhile, women who experienced parental divorce before turning 18 were 39 percent more likely to smoke than women from intact families.

“Finding this link between parental divorce and smoking is very disturbing,” lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Chair at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, said in a university news release.

The researchers anticipated that the association between smoking and parental divorce can be explained by one or more of the following factors: lower levels of education or adult income among the children of divorce; adult mental health issues (e.g. depression or anxiety among the children of divorce); or other co-occurring early childhood traumas, such as parental addictions or childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Upon examining a representative sample of 7,850 men and 11,506 women aged 18 and over, the researchers found that more than 1,500 men and more than 2,300 women had experienced their parents’ divorce before they reached the age of 18. A total of 4,316 men and 5,072 women reported that they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their life.

The data analyzed by the researchers were drawn from the Center for Disease Control’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.

Co-author Joanne Filippelli, a University of Toronto doctoral student, said it is possible that “children upset by their parents” divorce may use smoking as a coping mechanism to regulate emotions and stress. Some research suggests this calming effect may be particularly attractive to those who have suffered early adversities.”

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Expert Advises Medication and Support are Helpful to People Who Want to Stop Smoking

An expert on smoking cessation names medication and support as two effective approaches for people who want to quit cigarette smoking.

smoking cessation effectsMelissa Hinton, a doctorate nurse practitioner at Intermountain St. George Pulmonary Medicine, said  prescription medications are recommended for those who have tried to quit smoking before but were unsuccessful. She explained the importance of understanding the way cravings work and that finding a substitute to satisfy the desire for tobacco can significantly help to stop smoking.

“It’s important to remember that each time you quit, you are better equipped for success the next time,” Hinton said in the report featured on “Don’t count it as a failure. Every quit attempt is the foundation for successful cessation.”

Hinton also emphasized the role of parents and grandparents in motivating smokers to stop their addiction. She offered the suggestions below on what family members can do to help a loved one struggling with heavy tobacco use.

  • Recognize how difficult it really is to quit and support your loved one in his efforts, whether he is ultimately successful or not. She said, “Be careful not to degrade and tell them you are proud of them for trying.”
  • Have an open discussion with your loved one. “Many smokers are already pretty defensive, so make it a positive conversation and be careful not to attack,” Hinton explained. “Find reasons to quit that will benefit you both.”
  • Help prepare for the “quit date” by moving ashtrays away from their normal locations.
  • Ask how you can help and develop a support system. “Sometimes it may be as simple as encouraging them to hold on for another couple of minutes when a craving comes, or touching their elbow when you can tell they are struggling,” Hinton further noted.

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Campaigns Against Teen Tobacco Use Suffers Budget Cuts

Funding for anti-tobacco programs that target teen populations gets critical cuts in North Carolina.

Mecklenburg County was one of the first to suffer from the cuts as state officials voted to decrease funds for the said campaigns. This move did not sit well for the advocates of teen anti-tobacco use.

Tobacco Reality Unfiltered (TRU) spokesperson and coming senior Caroline Debello is one of the most affected by the cuts. As a messenger for the TRU, Debello brings the message against teen smoking to kids her age. She gets paid for her services but after what has happened, she might not be able to continue and her plans to travel all over the state might be put on hold.  “To stop that, I don’t know how you have the guts to do that,” Debello claimed. “I think it’s ridiculous.”

teen smokingThe budget of TRU in Raleigh decreased from $17.3 million to a measly $2.7 million.

Results of the budget cuts have cost the Mecklenburg County Health Department to lose three of their health educator positions and at least $300,000 in funding.

National and state officials were quick to defend their votes favoring budget cuts for anti-tobacco programs. They say smoking rates continue to drop, thus the money will be used to sustain other health programs such as the Medicaid.

State Rep. Craig Horn shared why he decided to allow the cuts. Horn said: “I think that we can reduce state spending in this specific area so that available funds can be reallocated.”

But for teens like Debello, the future of teen smoking is now uncertain as statistics could once again shoot up as initiatives against smoking are lessened. Debello shared: “It is disappointing. It’s awful and it’s heartbreaking that we can’t keep doing this to try and make a difference in the state.”

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Drug Abuse Linked to Brain Networks Among Teens

A new study conducted by the researchers from the University of Vermont could shed light on the issue as to why teenagers behave differently towards substance abuse.

brain scanThe proponents of the study gathered 1,896 14-year-old participants, the largest sample so far for a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning procedure. The participants were given the task to press a button on a keyboard, but researchers would insert a signal at anytime for the duration of the test that commands the participants to stop the task. The brain’s reaction to the stop signal is used to measure a teen’s impulsive behavior.

Data gathered from the study were analyzed and the differences in the brain networks were noted to cause varying impulsive behaviors of the teens. Participants who were able to follow the cue to stop had certain brain networks “light up” on the fMRI scan.

University of Vermont post-doctoral researcher Robert Whelan said that a teen’s impulsive behavior dictates their susceptibility for drug and alcohol abuse and that there are differences as to how a teen’s brain react or “light up” as far as their impulsiveness is concerned.

It was also confirmed by Dr. Hugh Gravan, associate professor of psychiatry, that those whose brain networks function less on the impulse-regulating factor increase their risks for smoking and drugs and alcohol use.

The results of the study could be the answer to the question of whether brain changes occur before substance abuse happens or are caused by the unhealthy habits.

In a feature from CBS News, the team of scientists from the university emphasized the importance of studying brain networks to understand a teen’s risk for substance abuse. This could be a key to hopefully put a stop on meaningless deaths among the youth which are often linked to impulsive behaviors that are all preventable.

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Surgeon General Report Warns on Youth Smoking

A new US Surgeon General report is warning that youth smoking can be promoted through advertising campaigns that tobacco manufacturing companies use to sell their products.

While the report does not directly conclude that packaging materials are also responsible in enticing kids to smoke, it suggests that the way they are designed nowadays appear to be more attractive to youth smokers which could persuade them to try the product.

The report includes the fact that although youth smoking has declined over the years, the rate by how much it has gone down in the last few years has significantly slowed down. Surgeon General Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that more and more people in the United States aged 18 and below are becoming daily cigarette smokers.

In 1994, the Surgeon General issued a similar report focusing on how tobacco ads can increase the risks for adolescent smoking and the importance of getting the whole community involved to help discourage kids from cigarette use.

The latest report is warning parents, concerned citizens, and even the youth population to be wary of the strategies utilized by tobacco companies in encouraging youth smoking. Examples are the marketing materials for cigarettes that are strategically placed near areas where they can easily get children’s attention.

The same initiative has been undertaken by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids alongside the American Heart Association wherein a report entitled “Deadly Alliance” showed how tobacco manufacturers are taking advantage of their spots in convenience stores when they put their products near child-friendly items like candies.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matt Myers reiterates the need for parents to be critical on how cigarettes are marketed as they lead kids to try smoking. “But it’s also important that they become involved in their community,” Myers says. “The way to reduce tobacco use among American kids is if parents get involved and demand that states fund comprehensive tobacco control programs.”

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