If parents ever smoked, teens may be more likely to light up

August 5, 2013 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter
If parents ever smoked, teens may be more likely to light up
Study also shows influence of older siblings.

(HealthDay)—Teens of a parent who smoked—even if the mother or father quit before the teen was born—are more likely to smoke than those whose parents are nonsmokers, a new study finds.

Having an older brother or sister who smokes also raises the odds that a teen will pick up the habit, the researchers report.

"These findings imply that any amount of smoking could have important influences on the next generation," said lead researcher Mike Vuolo, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University. "Given the influence on the oldest siblings, this is especially the case in heavy-smoking households."

Vuolo and co-author Jeremy Staff, an associate professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University, analyzed data from a multigenerational study that has followed participants since 1988, when they were freshmen in high school, to 2011. They focused on 214 now-parents and 314 of their aged 11 and older.

Annual survey results uncovered four patterns of smoking: teens who were persistent heavy smokers, teens who were light smokers who quit or reduced use, teens who started smoking later and nonsmokers.

Their children were then surveyed in 2011.

"Surprisingly, we found similar odds of smoking among the children for the three smoking groups [23 percent to 29 percent] compared with children of nonsmokers [8 percent]," Vuolo said.

In homes with a persistent heavy-smoking parent, the oldest sibling is influenced to smoke, which in turn increases the chances that younger siblings will smoke by six times, he added.

"We should educate young people that smoking at any time in their lives could have influences on their children. Also, preventative efforts should target heavy-smoking households, trying to break the cycle of influence on the oldest siblings," Vuolo said.

The report was published online Aug. 5 and in the September print issue of Pediatrics.

Dr. John Spangler, a professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said there may well be a genetic component to these findings.

"This study confirms what we have already sensed, that there is a family history of tobacco use among many smokers," Spangler said. "We know that people are more likely to uses substances like alcohol based on family history, the same holds true for tobacco use."

This may point to a genetic predisposition to metabolize nicotine or dopamine differently, he said.

"We should encourage doctors to ask about a family history of smoking, because if there is a family history of smoking then that individual is more likely to be a smoker in the future," Spangler said.

Parents who were former smokers should realize their child is more likely to become a smoker. These parents may want to discuss smoking with their children with an eye toward preventing it.

"This may also be a good way for physicians to counsel parents about and children about tobacco use—that there is this risk factor," Spangler said.

Another expert agreed that parents who smoke should make every effort to quit, but said that further measures are needed.

"Consistent with previous research, this study shows the dramatic impact of parental smoking on youth smoking," said Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"Even parents who are unable to quit should make their cars and homes smoke-free, send clear messages to their children about not smoking and support policies and programs like increased tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and comprehensive prevention and cessation programs that are proven to reduce smoking among kids and adults," he said.

While the study showed an association between having parents or siblings who smoke and yourself, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

Another study in the same journal issue found that 72 percent of teens who use smokeless also smoke cigarettes.

This finding runs counter to the idea that smokeless tobacco products can help reduce the health problems associated with tobacco use, the researchers said.

Kids who used smokeless tobacco were more likely to believe that it's less harmful than tobacco products in general, the study found.

Explore further: Every 10 tobacco ad sightings boost teens' risk of starting to smoke by almost 40 percent

More information: For facts about smoking cessation, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related Stories

Every 10 tobacco ad sightings boost teens' risk of starting to smoke by almost 40 percent

June 12, 2013
Tobacco ads really do persuade teens to take up smoking, with every 10 sightings boosting the risk by almost 40 percent, reveals research published in the online only journal BMJ Open.

Many smokers light up with kids in car, study says

November 12, 2012
(HealthDay)—Only one-quarter of smoking parents adopt a strict smoke-free car policy, and nearly half who don't enforce such a ban light up while driving with their children, a new study indicates.

Children as young as seven affected by parents smoking

July 24, 2013
A new study out today (24 July) shows that children as young as seven had elevated levels of cotinine (a by-product of nicotine) in their blood if their mother smoked, particularly children whose mothers smoked ten cigarettes ...

Pediatric practices can offer smoking cessation assistance to parents of their patients

June 24, 2013
Finally some good news for parents who smoke: you may now be able to get help quitting from an unlikely source, your child's doctor. A study in the journal Pediatrics, which has been posted online, shows that it is feasible ...

Changes necessary to help homeless quit smoking

July 18, 2013
(HealthDay)—Many homeless are interested in quitting smoking, and specific interventions are necessary for this population, according to a perspective piece published in the July 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Non-smoking hotel rooms still expose occupants to tobacco smoke

May 13, 2013
Non-smokers should give hotels that allow smoking in certain rooms a wide berth, say the authors, and instead choose completely smoke free hotels.

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TharpaLodro
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2013
It doesn't matter why you started, there are plenty of reasons to stop smoking.
If you want to stop smoking and lose weight while doing it, read Stop Smoking and Lose Weight: A Buddhadharmically Enhanced Alchemical Transmutation Process, by Tharpa Lodro, available on Amazon.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.