Being popular at school may come at a price after a new study found that the most popular students were more likely to start smoking compared to others.
The study was conducted by researchers at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California who surveyed seven schools from Southern California and also analyzed data from similar studies that had surveyed students in the sixth through 12th grades in the United States and Mexico.
Researchers led by Thomas Valente surveyed nearly 2,000 students studying in ninth and 10th grade during October 2006 and 2007 and asked them whether they, or their friends, had smoked during the last 30 days. The researchers measured the popularity of a student by determining how many of his peers had named him as a friend.
The researchers found that those who were popular were more likely to start smoking earlier compared to those who were less popular and were also likely to become friends with other students who also smoked.
"We're still seeing this association more than 10 years later, despite marginal declines in smoking, suggests that popularity is a strong predictor of smoking behavior. We haven't done enough to make it cool not to smoke", Valente said.