The study, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is based on surveys of teenagers in ninth and 10th grades at seven mostly-Latino high schools in the Los Angeles area. Its findings confirm results from older studies about high school students in the United States and Mexico, according to a recent article.
Thomas Valente, a professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, and his colleagues asked 1,950 students whether they had tried smoking and how often they smoked in the last month. They also asked the students how they thought their friends felt about smoking, the smoking habits of their peers, and who their five best friends were.
A student’s level of popularity was measured by the frequency he or she was identified as a friend. More than 25 percent of ninth graders reported smoking, compared to 28.1 percent of 10th graders, according to the study. Researchers said that anti-smoking messages have made smoking less popular, but are not as effective in many places that smoking and popularity go hand-in-hand.