Everyone knows that smoking is really bad for you. But, how do you help kids keep from starting the expensive and nasty habit in the first place? Peer pressure seems to help. And for young adults who are already smokers, what will it take to break the habit? Perhaps being able to breathe better is a key motivator.
Kids as young as 10 admit to sneaking a smoke every once in a while, while 17 percent of high-school students and 5.2 percent of middle-school students admit to being daily cigarette smokers. Many college students bring their habit with them when they enroll.
What helps kids keep from starting to smoke? A new study suggests that kids who are involved in team sports with teammates, who do not smoke, are less likely to start.
Interestingly, the study showed that girls involved in sports with teammates who do smoke, are more likely to give it a try. Peer pressure seems to have more of an impact among girls.
"This result suggests that peers on athletic teams influence the smoking behavior of others even though there might be a protective effect overall of increased participation in athletics on smoking," study leader Kayo Fujimoto, who conducted the research while at the University of Southern California, said in a journal news release.
Researchers questioned 1,260 sixth through eighth graders about their smoking behavior. The children were middle class, lived in urban areas and ethnically diverse. The study, appearing Feb. 8 in Child Development, found that the more sports the kids played, the less likely they were to smoke.
The authors of the study believe that these findings may be helpful in improving anti-smoking campaigns aimed at children.
"Current guidelines recommend the use of peer leaders selected within the class to implement such programs," said Fujimoto. "The findings of this study suggest that peer-led interactive programs should be expanded to include sports teams as well."
Another recent study focused on college students who smoke.
Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, studied 327 college students- ages 18 to 24 years old- who participated in a program to help motivate them to quit smoking. More than half the students smoked five to 10 cigarettes a day and had smoked for one to five years.
Participants who quit smoking for two weeks or more reported substantially fewer respiratory symptoms, especially coughing, than those who failed to kick the habit.
"That the benefit of stopping smoking starts in days to weeks -- not years or decades -- is important. Now health care providers can counsel young smokers that their breathing can feel better soon after they stop. This can help to motivate young adults to stop smoking before the severe damage is done," journal editor Dr. Harold Farber, an associate professor of pediatrics in the pulmonology section at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a journal news release.
Smoking has continued to decrease on college campuses, perhaps due to stricter smoking policies. Many colleges prohibit smoking anywhere on campus, and others do not allow smoking within a certain amount of feet from doorways. Cigarettes are expensive as well. Many college students are barely getting by with the increase costs in tuition. Something has to give, and cutting out cigarettes can save a pretty tidy sum. Also, smoking has lost a lot of its “cool” factor. Many students just find it annoying.
Health professionals are always looking for ways to impress upon young people that smoking isn’t only a social nuisance, it can also become a serious long-term health problem.
Perhaps these studies can offer counselors, parents and friends, new discussion points in the battle to help kids avoid smoking or to help them quit.
Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=66152 / http://www.doctorslounge.com/index.php/news/hd/26596