UW SealResearchers from the University of Washington have found novel evidence demonstrating that parents could perhaps be a positive or negative influence on their children’s future smoking habits. Simultaneously, parents may possibly increase their children’s likelihood of smoking by their own use of tobacco.

For the purpose of better understanding this criterion, researchers examined approximately 270 adolescents in which 51 percent were male and about 85 percent were white. The adolescents seem to have begun smoking by the eighth grade. However, they did not progress to daily smoking at that point of time.

“If parents really don’t want their children to smoke they need to communicate that by establishing clear guidelines in their families about not smoking and discuss them with their school-age children,” says lead researcher, Min Jung Kim, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Social Development Research Group.

They were noted to have been drawn from a bigger analysis which examined the development of healthy and problem behaviors among children at 10 suburban schools in the Pacific Northwest. This larger study was noted to gather data about their smoking habits during annual interviews from the seventh through the 12th grade.

Supposedly, daily smoking was defined as smoking one cigarette a day for the past 30 days prior to yearly interviews. The results revealed that by the time the students were in the 12th grade, nearly 156 of them or 58 percent seemed to have become daily smokers.

It was observed that besides parenting and parental tobacco use, other factors which predicted teen smoking were having friends who smoked. Also participation in other problem behaviors such as skipping school, getting into fights and engaging in destruction were apparently associated with teen smoking.

The research found that parents seem to play a key role in whether or not their teen who use tobacco become daily smokers before they graduate from high school.

Kim further added, “If parents smoke, teens have more access to cigarettes than teens who have non-smoking parents. A second preventive measure for smoking parents is to quit smoking themselves.”

Kim claimed that the majority of smoking prevention programs should not directly address the role of parental smoking or connect anti-social behavior to smoking which usually seems to take place together.

“Parents need to know that they are still important and can make their children feel good when they do something right and also know that there are consequences when they do something wrong. Many parents think adolescence is the time for children to have their independence. But it is important to maintain good supervision of your teen. Parents who smoke also need to understand that they are modeling behavior and if they quit smoking they send a strong message to their teenager,” elucidates Kim.

She was of the opinion that parents ‘should not ignore children’s experimental smoking at any age because it put them at great risk of progressing to daily smoking.’ In order to do that, parents may perhaps set and impose clear guidelines about tobacco. Also, parents should examine their children closely to ensure that they are following their rules reveals the researcher.

Furthermore, they may need to identify and monitor their children’s friends too. Parents should also provide clear, consistent and positive consequences for obeying those guidelines and appropriate and consistent negative consequences for defying them.

The findings of the research will be published in the journal, Paediatrics.