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Children whose parents smoked are twice as likely to begin smoking between 13 and 21

Twelve-year-olds whose parents smoked were more than two times as likely to begin smoking cigarettes on a daily basis between the ages of 13 and 21 than were children whose parents didn't use tobacco, according to a new study that looked at family influences on smoking habits. The research indicated that parental behavior about smoking, not attitudes, is the key factor in delaying the onset of daily smoking, according to Karl Hill, director of the University of Washington's Seattle Social Development Project and an associate research professor of social work.

Hill said other elements that influenced whether or not adolescents began daily smoking were consistent family monitoring and rules, family bonding or a strong emotional attachment inside the family, and parents not involving children in their own smoking behavior. The later includes such activities as asking their children to get a pack of cigarettes from the car or having them light a cigarette for the parent.

"All of these factors are important in delaying or preventing daily smoking, but parental smoking is the biggest contributor to children initiating smoking," said Hill. "It really is a matter of 'do as I do' not 'do as I say' when it comes to smoking." The study is one of the first to look at the initiation of daily smoking rather than the experimental use of tobacco. It defined daily smoking as smoking between one and five cigarettes daily in the previous 30 days at the time of each interview.

The research is part of the ongoing Seattle Social Development Project supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that is tracking the development of positive and antisocial behaviors among 808 individuals. They originally were recruited as fifth-grade students from elementary schools in high-crime Seattle neighborhoods.

For this study, the individuals were interviewed at ages 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 21. The group was nearly equally divided among males and females. Forty-
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
28-Sep-2005


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