Teenage lesbian or bisexual girls are many times more likely to smoke regularly than straight girls their age. They are the worst hit by tobacco among all groups of young people, according to a new US study.

Almost 40 per cent of teenage lesbian or bisexual girls aged between 12 and 17 said they smoked weekly compared with just six per cent of heterosexual girls in an ongoing study of 16,000 adolescents.

However, these high rates were not seen in gay or bisexual boys, who were no more likely to smoke than straight boys.

Lesbian and bisexual girls were also 60 per cent more likely than heterosexual girls to say they would use tobacco-promoting merchandise like hats and T-shirts.

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