Access to cigarettes predicts teen smoking

July 16, 2008 at 11:01 PM
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BOSTON, July 16 (UPI) -- Children with easy access to cigarettes are more likely to end up regular smokers, particularly if their friends smoke, U.S. researchers say.

"We found that if you get kids to answer just two simple questions -- 'would it be easy for you to get a cigarette?' and 'do you have friends who smoke?' -- you can identify those who are at high risk of becoming regular smokers," lead author Chyke Doubeni of the University of Massachusetts Medical School said in a statement. "Saying yes to either should raise a red flag and prompt doctors and others to talk with parents and kids about how to avoid smoking."

Doubeni and colleagues interviewed 1,195 sixth-graders in Massachusetts who had never before attempted to smoke, or who smoked less than once a week and then tracked them from January 2002 to February 2006.

The study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, found 177 students tried out smoking and 109 became regular smokers. All those who picked up the habit either agreed with the statement "it would be easy for me to get a cigarette" or acknowledged having a friend who smoked -- or both.

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