Friends and family increase the risk of children becoming smokers in the UK

Teenagers whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, or whose parents or friends smoke, are more likely to smoke themselves.


New findings from the Imperial College London suggest that teenagers whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, or whose parents or friends smoke, are more likely to smoke themselves. The study highlights caregivers and friends as key drivers of children trying and taking up cigarette smoking.

The ‘transmissible’ idea of tobacco smoking – with teenagers unquestionably liable to get the habit after an introduction from loved ones – and bolster the requirement for measures to cut smoking rates among pregnant ladies and additionally shielding kids from smoking in the home.

The study observed more than 11,500 children across the UK. notwithstanding declining smoking rates in the UK since the 1970s, vast quantities of early adolescents (matured roughly 14 years of age) are as yet attempting, or continuing to smoke.

Scientists analyzed data on a total of 11,577 children to see which factors were linked to whether children had tried smoking or were current smokers.

Teens whose caregivers smoked were more than twice as likely to have ever smoked themselves. More than one quarter (26 percent) of teens whose main caregiver smoked said they had tried cigarettes and five percent said they were current smokers, compared with 11 percent and one percent among those whose caregivers did not smoke.

Dr. Anthony Laverty, from Imperial’s School of Public Health and lead author of the research, said: “Most smokers start in childhood and although smoking rates are coming down in both adults and children, large numbers of children in the UK still smoke. This represents a serious risk to their health throughout their lives as smoking kills one in every two smokers.”

35% teens reported that their friends smoked had tried cigarettes themselves, compared with just four percent of those whose friends did not smoke. In addition to the friends and family effect in teen years, the study revealed that being exposed to smoking in early life was associated with later smoking behavior – more than tripling their risk. Both children exposed to smoking in the same room when they were younger and those whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were more likely to be smokers.

Dr Laverty said, “In order to protect children’s health we need to do more to tackle smoking among parents, particularly when they are pregnant or their children are young, as well as encouraging smoking cessation and smoke-free homes.”

“The link between children’s smoking behavior and that of their friends highlights how comprehensive interventions such as school-led strategies are needed. Smoking in pregnancy is also a risk, with around one in every 10 women still smoking while pregnant, so more needs to be done to support quitting, both for themselves and their children.”

Dr. Nicholas Hopkinson, senior author on the study from Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute added: “Our findings highlight the ‘transmissible’ nature of the tobacco epidemic, both from parents to children and among friendship groups. Understanding and addressing this is going to be vital to achieve the government’s Tobacco Control Plan target of a ‘smoke-free generation’.”

The study is published in the journal Thorax.

- Advertisement -

Latest Updates