SUNDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Peer pressure to smoke may be more influential for kids in middle school than for older students, a new study reports.
Although their friends' smoking behavior may hold less sway for teens over time, researchers said parents seem to remain influential over their children's smoking behavior throughout high school. They suggested that smoking intervention programs focused on peer pressure to smoke would be more effective for students in middle (or junior high) school than high school, and parents could provide another possible anti-smoking strategy.
Based on previous research that looked at social development, "we thought friends would have more influence on cigarette use during high school than junior high school," study author Yue Liao, a student with the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, said in a university 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," Liao continued. "During high school, cigarette use might represent the maintenance of behavior rather than a result of peer influence."
For the study, the researchers examined information on about 1,000 teens involved in the Midwestern Prevention Project, the longest-running substance use prevention, randomized controlled trial in the United States. Randomized controlled studies are considered the gold-standard for research.
The students were first questioned in the seventh grade when they were 11 years old. They were reassessed after six months, and then once every year until they were in the 12th grade.
The participants were asked how many of their close friends and parents (or two important adults in their liv
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