To Keep Your Kids from Smoking, Kick the Habit Yourself

Smoking may be more common in teens whose parents smoke

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Peer pressure is a concern for many parents when it comes to cigarettes. But new evidence suggests that parents' smoking habits may be a key factor, too.

A new study from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that teens may be more likely to smoke if their parents also do. The overwhelming majority of teens with nonsmoking parents said they had never tried a cigarette.

"Most smokers start smoking when they are teenagers," said lead study author Denise B. Kandel, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia, in a press release. "As this study shows, parents are a powerful influence."

For this study, Dr. Kandel and team looked at responses from a national survey of more than 67,000 teens and young adults. Specifically, they compared how parents' smoking habits lined up with their children’s.

Participants who had at least one smoking parent were more than three times as likely to smoke in their teen years as those who had nonsmoking parents.

While only 13 percent of participants who had nonsmoking parents said they also smoked as teens, 38 percent of those who had smoking parents said they smoked.

Daughters of mothers who smoked were at the greatest risk of teen smoking.

According to Dr. Kandel and team, these findings suggest that helping parents kick the habit may lead to less smoking among teens.

This study was published Sept. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health.

A grant from Legacy to D.B. Kandel funded this research. Dr. Kandel and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 16, 2015
Last Updated:
September 18, 2015