Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that working during adolescence raised the risk of a child's taking to smoking at an earlier age.
The researchers focused their study on 14 to 18-year-old adolescents, and found that the subjects who worked more than 10 hours per week also started smoking at an earlier age than their peers.
Based on their findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, the researcher have recommended that the workplace be considered as a location for smoking prevention programs or policies.
"Our findings highlight the importance of working on smoking behaviours of adolescents, which is an area that has not received much attention in current efforts to reduce youth smoking," said Dr. Rajeev Ramchand, lead author of the study completed while he was a PhD candidate in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Mental Health.
The researchers used data from the Baltimore Prevention Intervention Research Center (PIRC), and analysed work and smoking patterns of the study participants, of which 55 per cent were male and 85 per cent were African American.
It was found that adolescents who worked more than 10 hours per week were 13 years old when they first smoked. The researchers also observed that adolescents who did not work started smoking at 14, while those who worked less than 10 hours each week started smoking at 15.
According to the researchers, the findings co-ordinate with the previously published precocious development theory that adolescents seek out the rewarding aspects of adulthood ahead of their counterparts by assuming social roles and adult-like behaviours.
"There is a clear relationship between working for pay and adolescent tobacco use. Ensuring that adolescents work in smoke-free environments may be a promising way to prevent some kids from starting to smoke. However, more research is needed to systematically evaluate what features about the workplace, or about working, are most closely linked with adolescent smoking," said Ramchand, who is now an associate behavioural scientist with the RAND Corporation.