Smoking crosses generational lines

May 29, 2014

The longer parents smoke around their children, the more likely the children are to become heavy smokers, according to the findings of a multigenerational study of smoking risk.

 

The longer parents smoke around their children, the more likely the children are to become heavy smokers, according to the findings of a multigenerational study of smoking risk.

Researchers from various institutions in the Northeast found that among teenagers with nicotine-dependent parents, each previous year of exposure to parental smoking increases the odds that the adolescents will become early and/or regular smokers.

The investigators studied 406 teenagers aged 12 to 17 years. They interviewed the adolescents about the timing and duration of parental smoking, current smoking, and nicotine dependence.

For each year of prior exposure to parental smoking, the children of nicotine-dependent parents at baseline were more likely to start smoking early and regularly (odds ratio [OR], 1.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-1.33) and to experiment early with smoking (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.04-1.25).

Non-nicotine dependence among parents and being a former smoker were not associated with a higher risk of children becoming early or heavy smokers.

The investigators conclude that parents who quit smoking early in the lives of their children have the best shot at preventing smoking from crossing into the next generation.

According to the American Lung Association, children and teenagers who smoke are more likely to become addicted through adulthood. In fact, 85% of adult smokers began smoking when they were aged 21 years or younger. Every day, about 3900 children aged younger than 18 years try their first cigarette, and about one-quarter of them become regular, daily smokers. 


 

 

To get weekly clinical advice for today's pediatrician, subscribe to the Contemporary Pediatrics eConsult.