Rich Teens Drink More, While Poor Teens Choose to Smoke, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Research Reveals: Teens

teen drinking teen smoking

Teen smoking and drinking is tied to parents' wealth, a new study finds. Credit: Getty

Teens just want to have fun and, if you're a rich kid -- think Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" -- when the folks are away, it's time to booze it up and play.

Turns out affluence and alcohol consumption go hand-in-hand for the teen set, according to a new study, Reuters reports. On the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, kids who come from families with lesser means are more likely to reach for a cig.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the U.K., sought to discover the relationship between alcohol and cigarette smoking and teens in relationship to parent's economic status, according the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers studied 5,837 13-year-olds and found those who come from higher income levels drink more. Those from the lowest income bracket were 22 percent less likely to drink.

But the teens whose moms have a higher level of education drink less, according to the study.

The findings suggest teenagers from wealthier families may have easier access to alcohol. But when mothers have more education, they may be more likely to emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle to their kids, or lock up the booze cabinet, Reuters reports.

The researchers say parents, especially those from high-income families, need to address the issue of drinking in the early teens, according to the news service.

"More advantaged families tend to have healthier behavior" in general, lead author Roberto Melotti, of the University of Bristol, tells Reuters. "Our results indicate an example where this is not the case."

At age 13, many kids who drink may get the alcohol from their own house, Melotti tells Reuters.

"So parents may want to make sure any alcohol is locked away," he adds.

But, when it comes to smoking, kids from lower income families were more likely to try it, researchers found.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.