An Italian study has revealed that nursing students already smoke twice as much as the general population average of smokers.
The study surveyed 812 students who were just starting their University course.
They found that 44 percent of them were still smoking - twice as many as in the general population - and a further 12 percent were former smokers.
Three-quarters of the smoking students had at least one parent who smoked and almost half had at least one brother or sister who smoked.
"Smoking prevention is an important issue and healthcare professionals, especially physicians and nurses, can play a major role in helping people to understand the consequences that smoking can have on their health and their lives," said Professor Anna Maria Tortorano from the Department of Public Health at the University of Milan, Italy.
"However when health professionals smoke it makes it more difficult for them to encourage patients to stop," she added.
The study has been published in the January issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.