Preteen daters more likely to take up smoking: study

Reuters 01 Dec 06
LONDON (Reuters) – Children who start dating before their teens are at least twice as likely as other youngsters to become smokers, researchers said on Friday. The link was particularly strong in preteen girls who are increasingly taking up the habit. “Kids who start dating early, about 11 or 12, are two to three time more likely to take up smoking by the time they reach 16,” said Robert West, a professor of health psychology at University College London. “They are between six and nine times more likely to begin smoking in their teenage years,” he added in an interview.West and his team believe the findings could fill in some of the missing pieces about what motivates preteens to experiment with cigarettes and how to discourage them. The results of the study published in the journal Addiction are troubling because most adult smokers started when they were adolescents and efforts to prompt them to quit, or to prevent children from starting, have had limited success.