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Parents who quit smoking may influence their offspring to quit as young adults

SEATTLE A new study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that parents who quit smoking when their children are young may have a big influence on whether their offspring will quit smoking as young adults.

"We found that parents quitting smoking early, before their children reach third grade, is associated with nearly double the chances that their children would quit smoking in young adulthood," said Jonathan Bricker, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and staff scientist in Fred Hutchinson's Public Health Sciences Division. These findings appear in the March issue of Addiction, which is published by the London-based Society for the Study of Addiction.

Since the early 1990s, the prevalence of daily smoking among young adults has risen by nearly 40 percent, giving those between 18 and 24 the unfortunate distinction of being more likely to smoke cigarettes than any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's more, low quitting rates among young-adult smokers underscore the need to find ways to help young adults quit, Bricker said.

"Overall, these findings suggest that helping parents quit smoking should be considered in future public-health interventions that target youth smoking," Bricker said.

These findings build on an earlier study by Bricker and colleagues, published in the May 2003 issue of Addiction, which that found parents who quit smoking before their children reached third grade significantly reduced their child's odds of becoming a smoker by their senior year of high school.

"Taken together, these two studies suggest that parents who quit smoking by the time their children are 8 or 9 years old may help prevent their children from becoming adolescent smokers and, if they do start, may help them quit smoking in young adulthood," said Bricker, also a clinical instructor in the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

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Contact: Kristen Woodward
kwoodwar@fhcrc.org
206-667-5095
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
1-Mar-2005


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