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Cigarette ads turn teens on to smoking

It's easy to believe that teens who spend a lot of time hanging out at convenience stores are more likely to smoke than their peers. It seems natural, somehow. But why?

An article published today in the journal Pediatrics by Stanford senior research scientist Lisa Henriksen, PhD, confirms that these teens are more likely to smoke, and concludes that exposure to cigarette ads in convenience stores is the reason.

If you're dismissing this, as I did at first, thinking "Of course teens who spend time at convenience stores tend to smoke - they go there to buy their cigarettes," Henriksen's study shows there's more to it.

The study's starting point was with students who didn't smoke. It shows that the time spent in cigarette-ad-saturated convenience stores (and gas stations and small groceries) before they started smoking correlates to whether they begin later. Students who had visited these stores on a regular basis were at least twice as likely to try smoking as those who visited infrequently.
In the article I wrote about the study in Inside Stanford Medicine, Henriksen suggests federal regulators should consider barring such marketing efforts.

“The tobacco industry argues the purpose of advertising is to encourage smokers to switch brands, but this shows that advertising encourages teenagers to pick up a deadly habit,” said Henriksen, who has studied tobacco marketing for more than a decade.

Previously: Study shows smoking bans decrease kids' exposure to secondhand smoke, Europe launches campaign to get young smokers to stop, and Massachusetts stores may be required to post graphic anti-smoking signs

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