A new UW study looks into reasons why kids smoke.
The purpose of the study was to look at psychosocial risk factors associated with adolescent smoking in Wisconsin. Karen Palmersheim, UW Carbone Cancer Center, Program Director of the Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Program, says they found a number of factors influencing youth smoking.
"Kids who have one or more parents who smoke are twice as likely to be smokers compared to students who do not have a parent who smokes. Another strong factor was having a greater number of close friends that smoke."
Another factor: They think it makes them look cool. And, kids also believe that just a couple years of smoking won't hurt them.
Palmersheim admits this is not new information, but confirming it helps them to evaluate where they need to focus their prevention and cessation efforts.
Palmersheim says a multi-level approach is needed when dealing with youth. That includes on the individual and family level, in the community and in the schools. Palmersheim stresses, it's important to promote a smoke-free environment as the social norm.
"Because we know kids are so influenced by the behaviors around them … what seems to be socially acceptable, because adolescents always have the desire to be looked upon as more grown up than they perhaps are. Smoking can be perceived as a right of passage into adulthood."
The study was based on data from 1700 high school students in Wisconsin.