Setting an Example by Kicking the Habit
TUESDAY, May 27 (HealthScoutNews) -- Where there's no parental smoke, there's less chance children will get fired up about cigarettes.
A study by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found parents who quit smoking before their kids reach the third grade greatly reduce the risk that the kids will become smokers by the time they're seniors in high school.
If one parent quits smoking by the time the child is 8 or 9 years old, the child's odds of becoming a daily or monthly smoker by age 17 or 18 is reduced by 25 percent. If both parents quit when the child is 8 or 9 years old, the child's odds of becoming a smoker declines by almost 40 percent.
For the study, which appears in the May issue of the journal Addiction, the researchers analyzed data from more than 3,000 children and parents in 20 school districts in Washington state.
"Statistics show that if a child reaches age 18 without becoming a smoker, his or her odds of remaining smoke-free are around 90 percent. Therefore, our results indicate that if all smoking parents were to quit by the time their children were around age 8, it could prevent 136,000 young people in the United States from becoming daily, long-term smokers," researcher Jonathan B. Bricker says in a news release.
The study found mothers weren't more influential than fathers in this regard and girls were no more susceptible than boys. The study also found those least likely to smoke were children of parents who never smoked.
Among senior high school students, the rates of smoking were 14 percent for those whose parents had never smoked, 37 percent among those whose parents both smoked, and 26 percent among those whose parents had both quit smoking by the time the child was in third grade.
More study is needed to determine the benefits when parents stop smoking after their children reach age 8 or 9, the researchers note.