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What makes young girls smoke

Smoking is always a day to day problem among the adolescents. Every day, more than 3,200 adolescents start smoking. Statistics show more than 4 million young smokers will eventually die from tobacco-related causes.// A new study reveals weight concerns and a desire to be thin are among the driving forces causing young girls to become habitual smokers.

The study, sponsored by the National Heart Institute, followed more than 1,500 young girls, beginning at ages 8 and 9 for 8 years. Researchers compared the effects of certain risk factors on becoming a daily smoker in black and white girls, and examined the impact of risk factors independently for each group. Participants were divided into five categories depending on the number of days each smoked over a 30-day period.

Researchers used annual, in-depth interviews to determine factors early in life that increased the risk of later smoking. In addition to weight concerns, factors identified include stress, a parent with a high school education or less, being from a one-parent household, drinking alcohol, poor academic performance, and poor conduct.

NHLBI Director, Claude Lenfant, M.D., says, "Getting youths not to start smoking has been very hard. Many environmental, social, and psychological factors are involved in determining which youths are at most risk." Lead Investigator, Carolyn Voorhees, Ph.D., adds, "Many of the factors identified in this study as increasing girls' risk of becoming smokers were not even on our radar screens 10 years ago."

Researchers report the study's key findings show white girls are more likely to become daily smokers, while black girls generally smoke occasionally (6 to 19 days) or experimentally (5 or fewer days). Also, for black girls, weight concerns and a desire to be thin at ages 11 and 12 were the most important factors leading to daily smoking at ages 18 to 19. For white girls, weight concerns, poor conduct, stress, and a single-parent hous ehold at ages 11 to 12 were the most important factors leading to daily smoking at ages 17 to 19. Researchers thereby conclude that the findings show that we need to offer young teenage girls healthy ways of controlling their weight and dealing with stress.


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