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Teen Tobacco Use and Behaviors

Study shows high-risk behaviors associated with teen tobacco use

A study conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) compared problem behaviors of 7th grade nonsmokers, experimenters, and smokers at baseline and at 5-yr follow-up. 4,327 7th grade students completed questionnaires concerning academic difficulties, substance abuse, and delinquent behavior at baseline and at 5-yr follow-up.

Subjects were classified as nonsmokers, experimenters, or smokers. Results showed that, compared with nonsmokers, early teen tobacco users were 3+ times more likely by 12th grade to regularly use tobacco and marijuana, use hard drugs, sell drugs, have multiple drug problems, drop out of school, and experience early pregnancy and parenthood.

These subjects were also at higher risk for low academic achievement and behavioral problems at school, stealing and other delinquent behaviors, and use of predatory and relational violence. Early experimenter teens were at significantly greater risk for these problems as well, although to a lesser extent than smokers. The higher risk of many of these problems was evident for experimenters and smokers as early as 7th grade.

It is concluded that early teen experimenters and tobacco users are more likely than nonsmokers to experience various problem behaviors by 12th grade, with many of these problems evident as early as 7th grade.  Therefore, teen tobacco use behaviors may be prevented if they never began smoking.

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