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Course: MCAT > Unit 4

Lesson 1: Foundations of behavior passages

Cigarette use in teen populations


Smoking causes 1 in 5 deaths annually in the U.S., making tobacco use the leading preventable cause of death. Individuals who choose to smoke put themselves at risk for diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory illnesses, including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction. As this information becomes available and public health awareness increases about the dangers of smoking, the annual prevalence of smoking has declined, with the number of smokers decreasing by nearly 50% between 1965 and 2009. Despite the decline in smoking behavior, it is estimated that cigarettes were responsible for more than 1.2 million deaths in 2000.
Research suggests that most smokers begin to experiment with cigarettes in their teens. Every day, approximately 4,000 American teens under the age of 18 try their first cigarette. There are many reasons why children start to smoke, despite the health risks that smoking presents. A health psychologist is interested in learning more about factors that influence smoking behaviors in an attempt to prevent future illness and promote health. She surveys 10,000 children who are under the age of 18, and asks them a variety of questions about their health habits. Percentages from the study related to smoking are found in Table 1.
Table 1
Percent of SampleResponse
90.4%would try cigarettes at some point, if they had not already
50.5%would be willing to abstain from cigarettes if given an incentive
41.4%had already tried cigarettes
20.5%of high school students were regular users
7.1%of middle school students were regular users
86.3%of all regular users associated smoking with fun times with friends
The researcher wants to determine the effectiveness of a new type of incentive program for teens who choose not to smoke. Which of the following schedules of reinforcement would be most resistant to extinction?
Choose 1 answer: