Why young adults smoke
Smoking in young adults is on the rise. Although smoking rates have decreased significantly in the past 30 years, according to a recent study, the number of young adults who start smoking after high school is up by 50 percent in the United States.
So why do more young adults start smoking?
According to the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in late August, three factors may explain this behavior.
Smoking in young adults appears to start “among those who are impulsive, have poor grades or who use alcohol regularly,” said study author Jennifer O’Loughlin in a statement.
The study also revealed that the tobacco industry is increasing its efforts to appeal to young adults, and O’Loughlin believes smoking prevention campaigns should also target young adults ages 18 to 24.
Research data for the study came from questionnaires by 1,293 students from 10 high schools in Montreal, Canada, over a period of 13 years. All were in the seventh grade and recruited in 1999-2000.
Of the participants, 75 percent tried smoking. Of those, 44 percent began smoking before high school; 43 percent began smoking during high school and 14 percent began after high school.
Not all, however, continued smoking, but among those who began after high school, the researchers found that the three risk factors O’Loughlin stated were present. And these smokers showed greater impulsivity compared to other study participants.
According to O’Loughlin, impulsivity may be more freely expressed when one becomes an adult, since parents are no longer there to exert control. “We can postulate that parents of impulsive children exercise tighter control when they are living with them at home to protect their children from adopting behaviors that can lead to smoking, and this protection may diminish over time,” she said.
O’Loughlin also noted that smoking prevention campaigns usually target teens because studies show that people usually begin smoking at age 12 or 13.
“Our study indicates that it is also important to address prevention among young adults, especially because advertising campaigns of tobacco companies specifically target this group,” O’Loughlin said.
“This is particularly important because if we can prevent smoking onset among young adults, the likelihood that they will never become smokers is high,” she added.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.