We do not know anyone that believes it would be cool to eventually grow up to have heart disease, lung cancer or emphysema.

Yet, a new study suggests that popular students are smoking more cigarettes than those less popular, putting the the "cool kids" at a higher risk for developing health problems.

The study was a collaborative effort by the University of California and the University of Texas, which surveyed nearly 2,000 9th and 10th grade students about their smoking habits, their personal views on smoking, how they feel their peers view smoking, as well as asked the names of their five best friends.

Popularity of a student was determined by the frequency in which study participants mentioned a particular student as one of their friends.

What researchers found was not only did popular students start smoking earlier than unpopular students, but those kids that started smoking in the 9th and 10th grades were more likely to choose other kids that smoked to call friends.

Study experts say this research, along with other past and more recent data, indicates that popularity is a strong predictor of smoking behavior, since kids seem to look to their friends when making important life decisions.

[Medical News Daily]