While it is generally known that teenagers are susceptible to the power of suggestion, a German study has found that exposure to cigarette advertisements significantly increases the chances that a teenager will pick up the habit.
The study, published in the Journal Pediatrics, determined that cigarette advertisements are more effective than ads for other products like cellphones and candy directed towards the teen demographic. Out of the 2,100 participants, whose ages ranged from 10 to 17, 13 percent began smoking cigarettes during the course of the nine-month investigation.
Researchers say that young people are particularly susceptible to the subtle messages in tobacco advertisements, which often imply that smoking is tied to masculinity for males, and to thinness, sex appeal and independence for females. While the amount of ad exposure affected a teen’s chances of smoking, other factors like older age, poverty, low school performance and having friends that smoke can also cause teens to pick up the habit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 80 percent of adult smokers began smoking cigarettes before the age of 18, which can lead to numerous pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension, stroke and lung cancer. Avoiding the habit now can save an individual on life insurance and health insurance premiums when they get older.