School, Church Activities May Help Curb Youth Smoking

Kids less likely to light up if postive values are stressed, study suggests

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- School and church social activities may help reduce smoking among disadvantaged children, a new study reports.

The study included 824 ninth-grade students at four schools in Flint, Mich. The students, all with a grade point average of 3.0 or lower, were asked about their smoking habits, as well as those of their friends and family.

"Researchers are getting more interested in how social and environmental factors influence adolescent behavior," study co-author Marc Zimmerman, a professor with the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a prepared statement. "Kids who are at risk for a certain behavior such as smoking do not all become smokers. So, we tried to figure out why some overcome these risks, while others don't."

The study found that students who took part in extracurricular school activities or church programs were less likely to smoke, even if they had the same kinds of neighborhood risk factors as teens who smoked.

The findings were published online in the American Journal of Public Health and were expected to be published in the October print issue of the journal.

"Traditionally, interventions have focused on risk reduction," Zimmerman said. "These results tell us that instead of focusing on risk, we should be looking more toward creating opportunities for kids to take part in school and church activities to help them overcome the risks. Perhaps if we try enhancing strengths instead of fixing problems, we could have a positive effect on kids' lives."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about kids and tobacco.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Aug. 29, 2007


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