We know that “nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But just who is influencing teens to
start using tobacco in the first place? According to a study conducted in India, part of the answer may depend whether you are male or female.
The study was composed of over 9,000 households with those in age from 15 years and older. According to theories in psychology and sociology, “individuals imitate behaviors they observe from individuals with whom they identify closely, such as parents, siblings, friends/peers, teachers and the media.” The “importance of the person to the individual” also plays a role.
Males were more likely to start using tobacco due to pressure from friends. But peer pressure comes in second when it comes to teens smoking as they are more likely to be influenced by a family member. Females were more likely to be influenced by a family member whom they look up to, such as their mother. Having a family member use tobacco “legitimizes the habit in the mind of vulnerable kids” which may explain why children of smokers are more likely to pick up the habit.
According to the study, getting people to quit might be more effective if the tobacco user knew that their behavior was influencing tobacco use by other family members and friends. Educating the parents about the hazards of tobacco could benefit not only the parents, but possibly prevent future tobacco use among younger family members.
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