Children whose parents smoke are 4 times as likely to take up smoking themselves – Make Smoking History

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Children whose parents smoke are 4 times as likely to take up smoking themselves

Top medical experts have warned that teens whose parents or caregivers smoked are 4 times as likely to take up smoking.

Smokers are being urged to make quitting a new year’s resolution by considering impact on younger generation. The statistic was one of many released as part of a campaign to encourage smokers to make giving up their new year resolution.

Analysis has also shown that early teens whose main caregiver smoked were more than twice as likely to have tried cigarettes (26% versus 11% ) and 4 times as likely to be a regular smoker (4.9% versus 1.2%).

Recent research from NatCen Social Research has 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.

Watch: NHS and behavioural experts discuss the link between parent smokers and children taking up smoking

Deputy Chief Medical Officer and joint lead for the Office for Health Improvement and Disparity, 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 second-hand smoke but we should not overlook the impact that parents have as role models. Every parent wants what is best for their child and will not want them to become smokers. By stopping smoking now, parents can help break the pattern of smoking in their family across the generations, protect their children and improve their own health.”

The warning comes as the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics shows that one in eight adults in England still smoke. There has been a complex picture of smoking patterns since the pandemic, with high rates of quitting but also high levels of relapse and signs of a rise in smoking rates among younger adults.

Professor Nick Hopkinson of Imperial College London said: “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.”

Dr Bettina Hohnen explains how parents’ behaviours can have a huge impact on their children’s: “Even if we don’t directly expose children to second-hand smoke, or believe we are hiding our smoking by not smoking directly in front of them, it can still have a major impact and children can pick up the behaviour without you even being aware you’d had an influence.

“Children copy their parents’ and carers’ behaviours, so it’s important to model the behaviour you want from your child, or we can pass on behaviours without even realising. Actions really do speak louder than words, so if you don’t smoke, you will significantly reduce the chances of them taking up smoking in the future.”

Visit Local Services to find details of stop smoking services and support across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester or call the NHS Stop Smoking helpline free on 0300 123 1044