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Teenagers four times more likely to smoke if parents do, say experts | Smoking



Teenagers whose parents or caregivers smoke are four times as likely to take up smoking, medical experts have warned.

The statistic was one of many released as part of the Better Health Smoke Free campaign to encourage smokers to make giving up their new year resolution.

NHS and behavioural health experts discussed the link between adult smoking and the likelihood of children in their household becoming smokers.

Other findings discussed by the group were that early teenagers whose main caregiver smoked were more than twice as likely to have tried cigarettes and four times as likely to be a regular smoker.


Maggie Throup, parliamentary under-secretary of state and minister for vaccines and public health, said: “We know that many people make a quit attempt in January, and while there are so many good reasons to stop smoking for yourself, we hope that this new campaign – by highlighting the intergenerational smoking link with parents influencing their children – will be the added motivation many need to ditch the cigarettes for good this year.”

Other statistics included research from NatCen Social Research, which had also shown children aged 10 to 15 were more likely to smoke if either their mother or father currently smoked.

Children were also more likely to smoke if either parent had smoked in the past, even if they were not a current smoker, the same research showed.

The Better Health Smoke Free campaign comes from the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) in the Department of Health and Social Care.

Deputy chief medical officer for England and joint lead for the OHID, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, said: “Smoking is terrible for your health but it also has a negative impact on people around you. Most people know the dangers of secondary smoke but we should not overlook the impact that parents have as role models.”


Prof Nick Hopkinson of Imperial College London added: “Our research findings are clear – adult smoking has a tangible impact on children. Children whose caregivers smoke are four times as likely to take up smoking themselves.

“The most effective way to help prevent this would be for adults to quit smoking – clearly not only does this have enormous benefits for them but it will also benefit their children both now and in later life.”

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that one in eight adults in England are smokers.

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