Volume 11 Issue 2
Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 2-Jan-2009 
Next Update - 14:00 UC 08:00 EST 3-Jan-2009

Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
© Vidyya.
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Adolescents who work for pay more likely to use tobacco

(2 January 2009: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- A recent study of over 500 students, followed from first grade through high school, showed that adolescents who worked more than 10 hours a week were 3 times more likely to use tobacco than adolescents who did not work. Moderate work (less than 10 hours a week) did not have the same association.

Researchers funded in part by NIDA studied data obtained from children who were enrolled in a program aimed at improving shy and aggressive behavior in the first grade and followed for at least 10 years. Starting in the 6 year of followup, participants were asked about their experiences with tobacco; and starting in the 10th year of followup, they were asked about the average time they spent working for pay during the school year.

Of 799 adolescents who began participation in first grade, 570 participated in followup interviews at year 10, and 515 participated at year 11. At year 10, 26 percent of participants worked for pay; this number increased to 40 percent by year 11. Tobacco use also increased among study participants from 13 percent at year 10 to 17 percent at year 11. Further analysis showed that adolescents who worked more than 10 hours a week at year 10 were more likely to report current use of tobacco and to begin smoking at an average age of 13, compared to age 14 for adolescents who did not work and age 15 for moderate workers.

While researchers could not absolutely determine whether adolescents who were more likely to use tobacco (based on early childhood characteristics associated with adolescent tobacco use) were also more likely to work at year 10 of followup or whether they were influenced to smoke by drug-using peers, including coworkers, “this research highlights the need for more careful and systematic evaluation of the impact that working for pay has on the substance-using behaviors of adolescents,” conclude the authors.

Ramchand R, Ialongo NS, Chilcoat HD. The effect of working for pay on adolescent tobacco use. Am J Public Health. 2008;97(11):2056–2062.

Return to Vidyya Medical News Service for 2 January 2009

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