This research brief describes work documented in Does Early Drug Use Increase the Risk of Dropping Out of High School? (RP-725) and High-Risk Behaviors Associated with Early Smoking: Results From a 5-Year Follow-Up (RP-962).

Excerpt: The observation that adolescents who smoke also tend to have a variety of other problems (including the use of alcohol and other drugs, academic difficulties, delinquency, and impaired relationships) is not new. But a recent series of studies by Phyllis Ellickson and her colleagues at RAND has extended those observations to examine the long-term social consequences of smoking in early adolescence. Whereas earlier studies focused on older adolescents, we have examined the trajectory of smoking from the middle school years to the end of high school and have assessed the association between early smoking (both committed smoking and "experimenting") and other concurrent high-risk behaviors as well as later behaviors. We found that even occasional smoking during the middle school years may contribute to later problems, including dropping out of high school.

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