To keep your teenager from smoking, kick the butt yourself

Washington D.C, Sept 18 : Smokers, you may want to kick that habit if you don’t want your kids to smoke as a recent study showed that the more a parent smokes, the more their teenage son or daughter will also smoke.

Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute study found that teenagers are much more likely to smoke and be dependent on nicotine if a parent is dependent on nicotine, especially daughters if their mother is dependent on nicotine.

The authors found that 13 percent of adolescents whose parent never smoked said they had ever smoked at least one cigarette. By comparison, 38 percent of teens whose parent was dependent on nicotine had smoked at least one cigarette.

Among teenagers who had smoked at least one cigarette, 5 percent were dependent if their parent never smoked, but 15 percent were dependent if their parent was dependent. The effect of parental smoking and dependence persisted after controlling for factors such as adolescent use of alcohol and other drugs. Overall, teens had three times the odds of smoking at least one cigarette, and nearly twice the odds of nicotine dependence, if their parent was dependent on nicotine.

Daughters were almost four times as likely to be dependent on nicotine when their mothers were dependent on nicotine but were not affected by fathers’ nicotine dependence. Sons’ dependence was not affected by parental dependence.

A number of other factors increased the risk of adolescent lifetime smoking and nicotine dependence, including parent education, marital status, quality of parenting, and adolescent beliefs about the risk of smoking, perceptions of schoolmates’ smoking, marijuana use, and mental health. The researchers did not look at the effects of both parents being smokers, smoking by siblings or close friends, community norms, or exposure to pro-tobacco advertising.

The authors wrote that the fact that adolescent smoking was more strongly affected by parents who were current smokers than by parents who had quit suggests a role-modeling effect. In other words, teens imitate their parents.

Lead author Denise Kandel said that to prevent teens from starting to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco, people need to do a better job of helping parents quit smoking.

The study appears online in the American Journal of Public Health.