Cigarette Smoking Linked to Risky Sexual Behavior Among Teens

Cigarette smoking and risky sexual behaviors often occur together in teens and can be a reflection of addictive lifestyles and role modeling.

  • A study at the University of Southern California found that there are relationships between cigarette smoking and risky sexual behaviors.  The study, conducted by Dr. Steve Sussman, claimed that there are several  reasons that explain why smoking and sexual behavior are closely related.  The study points out that smoking and sex are endowed with seductive, addictive qualities that may eventuate into self-destructive behavior over time.   An important reason for this correlation is that both smoking and sex can alter the transmission of dopamine in neuronal brain cells.  They also may both be a reflection of behavioral disinhibition, where teens become impulsive and sensation-seeking.  The evidence also shows that neither smoking nor risky sexual behaviors occur by itself, but that they often represent a number of behaviors and attitudes that form a lifestyle.  Lastly, smoking and sex together are often observed as a result of parent role modeling and media exposure.  It has been reported that teens who engage in smoking and risky sex exhibit physiological responses as well as more alienation, depression, and lower self-esteem.  Prevention programs should be aimed at counteracting media messages and educational outreach promoting abstinence as well as a healthy lifestyle, both in the physical and psychological sense.1    


1The Relations of Cigarette Smoking with Risky Sexual Behavior Among Teens, Sexual Addictions & Compulsivity, 2005, pp. 181 - 199

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