Teens who work gain valuable skills as well as earn spending money, but a new study finds they may also pick up a costly habit on the job. More than half of American teenagers hold down a regular job, at least part time. Teens who work limited hours are more likely to be employed after high school, and they tend to earn more money than peers who did not gain any job experience. But a new study finds teens who work longer hours may be at higher risk for smoking. Researchers followed nearly 800 children from the first grade into high school. They found that teenagers who worked more than 10 hours per week were three times more likely to smoke than their non-working peers. But some job experience may actually help protect teens from smoking. Those who worked fewer than 10 hours per week tended to smoke less. The researchers say that young people most often work in restaurants or in retail jobs, so efforts to keep these businesses smoke free should help curtail teen smoking. Experts also recommend that adolescents work shorter hours whenever possible, leaving the teens more time for study, exercise, and fun.
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