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$12 million grant to study young adult smoking behaviors
Date:9/22/2010

The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a $12.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the predictors of smoking patterns from adolescence through young adulthood.

The grant builds on previous research conducted at UIC to better understand why some kids try cigarettes and quit, while others go on to become regular smokers.

The project will follow approximately 1,200 Chicago-area youth, first identified during mid-adolescence, who are now entering young adulthood -- the period of highest risk for establishing smoking and dependence, said Robin Mermelstein, professor of psychology and director of UIC's Institute for Health Research and Policy.

"We have a large group of individuals who we started to follow when they were in 9th and 10th grade," Mermelstein said. "Now they are transitioning into young adulthood, when there are multiple risks that they are encountering, such as tobacco use, increased alcohol use and a variety of other risky behaviors that may make them more vulnerable to developing a whole host of negative health outcomes."

Rates of smoking among adolescents have declined, but unfortunately, not fast enough, according to Mermelstein.

Recent studies have shown that in 2008, almost 45 percent of high school seniors smoked during the preceding 30 days, and 11 percent smoked daily.

The multi-level study will focus on the social and emotional contexts that may influence smoking and explore genetic markers for the development of dependence.

The researchers want to track the young adults in their day-to-day lives to find out how they are feeling, to learn what tobacco advertising they are exposed to, and to assess how their social lives and perceived pressures change in this very transitional time, according to Mermelstein, principal investigator of the study.

The researchers will conduct one-on-one interviews using personal digital assistants to ask part
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzlez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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