Study Reveals Pre-teens More Likely to Smoke if Their Parents or Siblings Smoke

teen_smokeIt probably shouldn’t be a big surprise.  But if a child’s parents or older siblings smoke; they’re also more likely to smoke.  In a study due to be published in the September 2013 issue of Pediatrics, a multigenerational study documents how the long-term smoking habits of parents affects the likelihood of their own children lighting up one day.

The “Parent and Child Cigarette Use: A Longitudinal, Multigenerational Study,” gathered and analyzed data from 214 parents and 314 children, who were 11 years of age or older.  Although only 8 percent of children of nonsmokers smoked cigarettes within the last year, the same study indicated that between 23 and 29 percent of children, with habitual smokers as parents, lit up as well.  While rates varied, the study revealed that even children of parents who had once smoked and quit, or who were light smokers had a higher risk of taking up the bad habit themselves.

What was also amazing was that parental smoking at any time in a child’s life, increased the chances that their child would also smoke, even if the parent quit smoking before their children were born.    Other interesting facts; children with older siblings that smoked were 6 times more likely to smoke than children who had siblings that did not smoke.  And an older smoking sibling was 15 times more likely to be present in a household of heavy smokers as compared to nonsmoking parents.

Even in an era of declining smoking rates among adolescents, children of both current and former smokers are at risk. So early education is not only paramount; but awareness of intergenerational influences is also important.  Prevention to weaken these family influences can make a difference to children at high risk.

The good news is that about 80 percent of teens in the United States don’t smoke; that’s 4 out of every 5 teens.  But you can make sure that it stays this way by talking to you kids early, often and truthfully about smoking as a health risk.

The Truth about What Smoking Does to Your Body

Trying to keep kids from attempting risky and addictive behavior can seem futile; you can’t be with them 100 percent of the time. But hopefully with a little patience and knowledge, parental influences can be an opportunity for them to see how positive your help can be.  To get you started, here’s a few facts about smoking that can take the glamor and appeal out of that nicotine habit for good:

  • With every drag off a cigarette, you inhale 400 toxic chemicals such as nicotine, cyanide, benzene, ammonia, carbon monoxide, just to name a few.
  • It turns your nails and teeth yellow.
  • Your sense of taste and smell diminish.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive, and can make your heart beat faster.

Overall, athletic performance will suffer thanks to the physical effects of smoking.  Smokers can expect to experience decreased circulation, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat.  Not only will you have bad breath when you smoke, but healing can slow since smoking impacts the body’s ability to produce collagen.  Smoking also slows the flow of blood through the blood vessels preventing the nutrients your skin needs to maintain a healthy glow.

At Newport Children’s Medical Group, our dedicated staff of award-winning pediatricians looks forward to seeing you and your family at any of our conveniently located offices.   We know that every family and every child is unique, and we strive to address your concerns in a way that will make you feel comfortable and relaxed enough to ask those tough questions.  We know it’s not easy being a kid, but we’re here to help make it the best it can be.