Young teenagers, smoking and drinking

Thought control could play an important role in preventing young teenagers from deciding to take up drinking and smoking. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, which found people are ambivalent to the two activities at such an early age - meaning action at this stage could herald positive results.

According to the investigation, individuals in this demographic associate both positive and negative factors to alcohol and tobacco, but found their formative years can be highly influenced by the media, peer pressure and other social matters.

Roisin O'Connor, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University, noted: "Initiation and escalation of alcohol and cigarette use occurring during late childhood and adolescence makes this an important developmental period to examine precursors of substance use."

The researchers discovered that kids of this age are influenced by two kinds of decisional processes when it comes to smoking and drinking - impulsive actions where they fail to consider the consequences and controlled choices that see them weigh up both the pros and cons. 

Professor Jim Orford, an Honorary Member of the British Psychological Society, commented: "Of course weighing up the pros and cons of consuming potentially dangerous products like tobacco and alcohol, rather than acting impulsively, is important and it is true that the young teenage years are crucial.

"There is plenty of evidence that starting to consume these products very early in life predicts problems later on. But, rather than emphasise 'thought control' by teenagers, this should be seen in the wider context of child-rearing which fosters resilience in the face of dangers and the need to regulate the marketing of dangerous products and their advertising, which has been shown to influence young people's choices."