Smoking habits passed from father to son, mother to daughter

Children of parents who smoke are more likely to smoke themselves than other children, but according to a new study published in the journal Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, the genders of those involved can make all the difference. Maria Loureiro and her colleagues from the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC) in Spain found that smoking habits are generally passed from mother to daughter, and from father to son, rather than from other configurations.

Smoking father in presence of his son

Smoking father in presence of his son

“Fathers transmit their smoking habits to a statistically significant level to their sons, and the same is true of mothers and daughters,” said Loureiro.

“However, if a mother smokes it does not seem to impact on the probability of her son smoking, and similarly a father that smokes does not affect his daughter.”

Researchers compiled information from the British Household Panel Survey conducted between 1994 and 2002, because it contains detailed information about tobacco product consumption within households that spanned generations. It also includes both two-parent homes and single-parent homes in its analysis, which offers insight into socioeconomic differences and their effects on smoking habits.

The data also revealed that a son whose parents both smoke is 24 percent likely to smoke, while a daughter’s probability of smoking in the same scenario is 23 percent. However, if neither parent smokes, then the probability for both sons and daughters drops to 12 percent. And in a single-parent home headed by a mother, a son is 32 percent likely to smoke while a daughter is 28 percent likely to smoke.

“These results have clear importance in terms of designing public policies to combat smoking,” added Loureiro. “Policies that are successful in reducing smoking habits among parents will also affect their children. Anti-smoking policies for young people need to be put in place that will also include the family and social context in which they live.”

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