Teens more likely to light up if parents smoked

Written by Health-e News

Teens are more likely to light up if their parents ever smoked – even before they were born – compared to children whose parents have always been non-smokers, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The research further revealed that having an older brother or sister who smoke also raises the odds that a teen will pick up the habit. “These findings imply that any amount of smoking could have important influences on the next generation,” said lead researcher Mike Vuolo from Purdue University in the United States. “Given the influence on the oldest siblings, this is especially the case in heavy-smoking households.”

Vuolo and co-author, Jeremy Staff from Pennsylvania State University, analysed data from a multigenerational study that followed participants from 1988, when they just went to high school, through to 2011. The study looked at 214 participants who are now-parents, and 314 of their children 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 non-smokers.

“Surprisingly, we found similar odds of smoking among the children for the three smoking groups [23 percent to 29 percent] compared with children of non-smokers [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.

In a HealthDay News report, Dr John Spangler from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, 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.”

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

Source: HealthDay News

About the author

Health-e News

Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews

Leave a Comment