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New Research Links Affirmative Action Bans With Increased Smoking Among Minority Teens

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“We found increases in self-reported cigarette smoking among underrepresented minority 11th- and 12th-graders, coinciding with the years affirmative action bans were discussed, passed, and implemented,” researchers write.

What happens to a dream deferred? New research offers an unexpected answer to Langston Hughes’ classic query: The disappointed dreamers find solace in cigarettes.

New research finds that minority 11th- and 12-graders were more likely to start smoking if the state they lived in had implemented a ban on affirmative action programs that could help them get into college.

“These findings suggest that social policies that shift socioeconomic opportunities could have meaningful population health consequences,” writes a research team led by Atheendar Venkataramani of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study, in the online journal PLoS Medicine, used data from a nationally representative survey of 35,000 ninth- to 12th-graders conducted biannually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants identify themselves by race and ethnicity, and report whether they engage in a variety of risky behaviors, including smoking.

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