Thrill-Seeking Teens More Likely to Light Up

These adolescents face greater risk of smoking at young age, survey finds

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TUESDAY, Oct. 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Risk-taking and impulsive teens who have a heightened need for stimulation are more likely to be influenced by tobacco advertising and have an increased risk of taking up smoking.

That finding comes from a study in the October issue of Health Communications.

Researchers at the Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Georgetown University interviewed 1,071 ninth graders at five public high schools. The students filled out a questionnaire that assessed their smoking habits, exposure to other smokers, receptivity to tobacco ads and the novelty-seeking personality trait.

Overall, 44 percent of the students had moderate to high levels of receptivity to tobacco ads. The students in this group were more likely than others to have tried smoking and to rank higher in the novelty-seeking trait.

Novelty-seeking students, both smokers and non-smokers, were twice as likely to be receptive to tobacco ads. The researchers conclude that novelty-seeking may be a key factor in greater receptivity to tobacco ads. This personality trait may also increase their risk of starting to smoke.

"The heightened receptivity to tobacco advertising among youth high in novelty-seeking may be attributable to their greater need for stimulation and rewarding experiences," lead author Janet Audrain, assistant professor of psychiatry, says in a prepared statement.

"Tobacco industry promotional campaigns, which often highlight stimulating activities and adventurous behavior, appear to be designed to appeal to this feature of novelty-seeking youth," Audrain says.

The study suggests anti-tobacco advertising may need to target novelty-seeking teens to counter the influence of tobacco-industry ads.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about youth and smoking.

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, news release, Oct. 13, 2003

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