Twin Study Shows Smoking is Genetic

Smoking habits may be in your DNA

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Twins share many things and that may even include bad habits. A new study involving twins discovered that smoking may be genetically influenced.

A new study shows that genetic factors play a role in smoking. In identical twins, if one quit the other twin quit as well.

The same was true for identical twins who continued to smoke. This study can help affect and change current anti-smoking policies.

"Get your twin to quit smoking with you."

According to the co-author of the study, Fred Pampel a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, smoking is no longer just a social activity. According to Dr. Pampel, legislation restricting cigarettes began in the 1970's and was quite effective in getting many people to quit.

Dr. Pampel believes new legislation, such as increased taxes and limiting public spaces to smoke, has limited social smoking. While these programs may be effective, new programs may need to focus on genetic factors to help reduce the number of smokers.

The study was conducted by the University of Colorado at Boulder and examined the smoking patterns of 596 sets of twins from 1960 to 1980. The study consisted of 363 identical twins and 233 fraternal twins. In the study, 65 percent of twins quit smoking within two years if one twin quite compared to 55 percent for fraternal twins.

This difference, according to the study, means there is a genetic factor involved and highlights the importance of genetics on smoking.

Because the role of genetics may be playing a role in smoking, Dr. Pampel believes that smoking needs to be treated like an addiction. New programs can focus on counseling and educational support and providing smokers with a way to replace nicotine.

This study was published in the November edition of Demography.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 19, 2011
Last Updated:
November 26, 2011