Parental tobacco use and restrictions influence teen smoking

It has long been recognized that the kids of parents who smoke are more likely to become smokers themselves. Some studies have found that if both parents smoke, their kids are about 4 times more likely to become smokers (as compared with kids of 2 never smokers). If parents smoke, the earlier they quit, the less likely their kids are to become smokers.

More recently researchers have examined the impact of parental smoking restrictions and adolescent smoking. One such study was published this month by a group led by Dr Joseph Ditre of the University of South Florida in Tampa. They asked 757 Florida high schoolers about their tobacco use and attitudes and restrictions on smoking imposed by their parents. The first interesting finding was that 44% of adolescent smokers reported that their parents do not know they smoke!

The other main finding was that the greater the parental restrictions on smoking (e.g. banning tobacco from the home) the less smoking the less their kids smoked, and the more motivated the kids were to quit. In fact smoking kids of parents who never restrict smoking, smoke about twice as many cigarettes (15) as smoking kids of parents who restrict smoking a lot (7).

So although there are other factors influencing adolescent smoking (like peer smoking), parental smoking and attitudes still have an influence. So if you are a smoker and you don’t want your kids to smoke, the sooner you quit smoking and implement tight smoking restrictions for the home the better.
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About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.