Parents who routinely engage in such anti-smoking behaviors in front of their adolescent children - particularly parents who themselves smoke - appear to significantly reduce their offspring's chances of becoming a smoker by their senior year in high school, report M. Robyn Andersen, Ph.D., and colleagues in the April issue of The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Adolescent children of parents who smoke were 13 percent less likely to become smokers by 12th grade if their parents reported routinely asking to sit in designated smoke-free areas of public establishments compared to adolescent children whose smoking parents chose to sit in smoking sections, Andersen reported.
Specifically, when parents reported that they did not usually use nonsmoking sections, about 42 percent of their adolescent children became daily smokers. When parents usually asked to sit in nonsmoking sections, the daily smoking rate among their adolescent children was 27 percent.
"I was surprised by the size of the effects," Andersen said. "In particular, I didn't expect them to be so large in the families where there was at least one smoking parent. This was a happy surprise, because most smoking parents don't want their kids to smoke," said Andersen, an associate member of Fred Hutchinson's Public Health Sciences Division.
The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute and a gift from the Northern Life Insurance Company of Minneapolis, Minn., is the first of its kind to assess the impact of nonsmoking sections on smoking behavior in adolescents, Andersen said.
"Since Americans tend to go out to eat quite a bit, asking to be seated in a nonsmoking section may be a particularly effective way to communicate because it's
Contact: Kristen Lidke Woodward
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center