Effects Of Parent Smoking Habits On Thier

Childs Smoking Habits Essay, Research Paper

Effects of Parent Smoking Habits on their Child?s smoking habits


Parents have an influence on whether or not their children will develop smoking

habits. The findings of this study show this to be true. Further research should be

conducted to find out whether or not how many children the parents have also has an

impact on smoking behaviors. The participants of this study were random individuals at a

local convenience store ranging in age from 18 to 47. The total number of participants

was 24. Of these twenty-four individuals thirteen were male and eleven were female.

Only sixteen of the participants smoked, eight being male and eight being female. The

eight non-smokers questioned all reported having parents who were non-smokers.

In the start of this research survey, I wanted to question high-school students at a

local area high school. When I went to conduct the research at the high school I was

informed that there is red tape involved when dealing with minors. In order to question

minors at this local high school the children would have had to have signed permission

slips from there parents, after they had the chance to read over the survey that would have

been filled out by their children. Having limited time to complete this research project I

decided that it would be in my best interests if I conducted the research elsewhere. I also

believe that having parents look at the survey might have compromised the answers that

would have been given by the children. Suffice to say the convenience store was my

second option in conducting this research. Although my second option did reveal relevant

findings, I believe that better answers to the adolescent smoking phenomenon would have

better been found in dealing directly with teenagers. Although more research is needed it

seems as if the smoking behaviors of parents has a direct impact on the smoking behaviors

of children.


Smoking rates among youths in our country has steadily increased for years. The

health consequences of smoking have been known for years, yet people still start the hard

to break habit. My question is, Why? Previous studies have been conducted to answer

this question. Variables in these studies have included peer pressure, advertising, and

family smoking. It is the latter of the three that this research study plans to analyze. It is

said that we are a product of our environment, so this study hopes to prove that when a

parent or guardian smokes it increases the chances of their child or children of smoking.

This question has been asked before, and it has been found by Karen H. Smith and

Mary Ann Stutts that , at least for girls, having at least one parent who smokes is a good

predictor of whether or not that child will end up smoking. (Smith,1999).

Having a father who smokes increases boys chances of smoking by 1.5 times and for

girls by 3.3 times. (Research Quarterly, 2000).

Literature Review

Many studies have been done on the habits of adolescent smoking. Previously

examined in separate studies were peer pressure, family smoking, advertising and

antismoking information. Bandura?s smoking environment variables such as parental,

sibling, and peer smoking habits were more important for predicting smoking behavior in


In prior research the number one predictor of smoking in adolescence is having at

least one sibling who smokes. In college-aged students the number one predictors having

at least one parent who smokes. These studies proved that the immediate family has a

great influence on smoking habits.

There are also other factors involved in the decision of an adolescent to begin

smoking. Peer pressure is another concern. ?Teens who associated with friends who

smoke and drink were more likely to do so.?(Parents and peers influence smoking,

drinking, 2001)

Two types of peer pressure occur in these studies: direct pressure and normative

pressure. Direct pressure is when a friend or a peer asks or dares and adolescent to smoke.

Normative pressure is indirect pressure such as socializing with peers who smoke. (Smith,

1999). This type of pressure causes the adolescent to lessen the negative aspects of

smoking because they see someone they admire or look up to, smoking. College students

are not as influenced by peer pressure as are junior high and high school aged students.

These children are at an age where peer pressure is the greatest because it is truly when

they begin to socialize without parental guardianship. (Smith,1999).

One study that was particularly interesting, was the effects of restrictions on smoking

at home, at school, and in public places. This study concluded that restrictions made

smoking socially unacceptable and inconvenient. Banning smoking in the home, even

when the parents smoke sends an unmistakable message to teenagers that smoking is an

unacceptable behavior. (Wakefield, 2000). ?Children who are exposed more often to

parents smoking inside the home might have an increased likelihood of becoming

established smokers.? ( Wakefield, 2000).

A surprising statistic that was found is that advertising of cigarette brands, paying

attention to cigarette ads, and being familiar with cigarette brands are not good predictors

of smoking behavior. (Smith, 1999). This study does make clear to distinguish that

although cigarette advertisements may entice some adolescents to smoke, rather it suggests

that smokers are no more likely to be subjected to cigarette advertising than are


A study done by Brown University stated that gender plays no role in whether or not

adolescents will become regular smokers. They also found that the rates of regular

smoking were slightly higher for adolescents who were exposed to violence in the home.

(Adolescent smoking, drinking behavior studied, 2000).


To conduct this research survey a random sample of twenty-four people was used.

The research was conducted at Economy Superette in Economy Boro of Pennsylvania.

Economy is a low crime rate suburb of the city of Pittsburgh located in Western

Pennsylvania. Economy is primarily a residential area. There are many housing plans and

local businesses. The average resident is middle class. The research was conducted in

February of 2001. A questionnaire was used to determine smoking habits and the reasons

for starting smoking. This questionnaire is located in the Appendix. The 24 participants

were asked if they would not mind filling out a survey. All participants were willing.

Sixteen out of the twenty-four were smokers.

The research in the literature review was on-line research of journal articles

involving adolescent smoking. Info-trac.com was the primary source of all information

used in this research paper.

The study reported here was designed to test whether or not parental smoking habits

had any effect on children?s smoking habits. Participants were asked to report their own

smoking habits, how often they smoked, and on average how many cigarettes per day did

they smoke. In addition to these questions they were asked whether or not their parents

smoked, and if they had ever tried to quit. There were also two open-ended questions at

the end of the survey that asked about whether or not they have ever known anyone who

has contracted any type of disease as the result of smoking.

Analysis of Data

There were twenty-four participants in this survey.

At the completion of the twenty-four surveys the findings were as follows. Of the

twenty-four people questioned sixteen smoked. Of the sixteen, nine people reported

having at least one parent that smoked. The average daily intake of cigarettes ranged from

six to a pack and a half of cigarettes per day. The people who reported smoking the

lowest amounts per day were also the people that reported having parents who were

non-smokers. The eight individuals who reported to be non-smokers, all have parents who

are non-smokers.

Gender did not seem to play any role on smoking behavior. Of the sixteen smokers it

was evenly distributed eight males and eight females. The non-smokers were also close in

range five being male and three being female.

Those who smoke stated their first cigarette experience between the ages of eight and

twenty. All sixteen people state that a friend had given them their first cigarette. One

person reported that his friend would steal cigarettes from his grandmother, and that they

would sneak outside and smoke them behind his shed.

The sixteen people who reported to be smokers all recalled at least one time when

they tried to quit smoking. No reasons were given as to why they wanted to quit. The

methods were as follows: All sixteen tried cold turkey, two tried the nicotine patch, and

one tried the nicotine gum.

Of the nine people who stated that their parents smoked, their parents tried the cold

turkey method way of quitting. All nine of these people stated that they did smoke in front

of their parents. The other seven people, who smoked, said that they did not smoke in

front of their parents.

Also included in the survey were two open-ended questions regarding whether or not

the participant had ever known someone who has contracted any sort of disease as the

result of smoking. Of the twenty-four surveys only one participant answered these

questions. The respondent was a female, of the age of twenty-five, and also reported

smoking. She stated that one of her cousins had passed away from lung cancer as the

result of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. She stated that this information does

impact her smoking habits, she says that she plans to quit before having children.

What was surprising in this survey was that there was only one participant who felt

the need to answer the last two open-ended questions. Was it that they other participants

felt that this information was too personal? Was it that making them think of someone that

they have lost as a result of smoking hits too close to home? This should be looked into

for further research. Studying the statistics of whether or not losing a family member or

friend will impact smoking behaviors.

As for the interpretation of this data, I am not qualified to draw any conclusions or

correlation?s as to what these numbers mean. One correlation I would like to make

involves the eight non-smokers involved in this survey. All eight reported having

non-smoking parents. This information leads to what previous studies have indicated, that

parental smoking habits do, in fact, have some sort of bearing on children?s smoking


Further Research

Reviewing the information that was collected during this survey, it seems as if

parental smoking habits do for all intensive purposes have an impact on child smoking

habits. But it may not be the parental smoking habits alone that cause smoking. Further

research should be done to take into account peer smoking habits, family smoking habits,

and restrictions on smoking at home or in school.

After conducting my research I found shortcomings in my survey that were not

discussed during the peer revue. Questions that should have been included in this survey

were, Why did you start smoking? , Do you have siblings that smoke? , Are you allowed

to smoke in your home? , and Do a majority of your friends smoke?

Another question that was missing from this survey was, Do you want to quit

smoking? It seemed particularly relevant that all sixteen smokers questioned during this

study have tried to quit. All may have been unsuccessful, but more research should be

done on why people want to quit and why they do not follow through with this healthy

alternative to smoking.

It is clear that much more research is needed in this area. Much more research

should be done to find a correlation between losing a family member or friend to a

smoking-linked disease and either quitting smoking or not starting at all. This research

report is only one in a long list of research to find out why adolescents begin the habit of

smoking. The question still remains with a long list of possibilities, but no real concrete

answer as to why.

Appendix A- Research Survey

Thank you for taking the time and participating in this survey. My name is Janine

Cecconi and this is an assignment for a Research Methods class. All information given in

this survey will remain confidential. Please feel free to skip any question that makes you

feel uncomfortable. Thank you again for participating.

1. Are you male or female?

2. How old are you?

3. Do you smoke?

4. If yes, how many cigarettes per day do you smoke?

5. How old were you when you had your first cigarette?

6. Who was it that gave you your first cigarette?

7. Do your parents smoke?

8. How did your parents react when they found out that you smoked?

9. Have you ever tried to quit?

10. If yes, what methods did you use?

11. Have your parents ever tried to quit?

12. If yes, what methods did they use?

13. Do you smoke in front of your parents?

14. Do you know anyone who has contracted any sort of disease as the result of

smoking?(if yes, explain)

15. If so, has that information had any result on your decision to smoke or not to smoke?


Smith, Karen H., and Mary Ann Stutts. ?Factors that Influence Adolescents to Smoke.?

Journal of Consumer Affairs. Winter, 1999. Vol. 33 i 2 p 321.

Wakefield, Melanie A., Frank J. Chaloupka, Nancy J. Kaufman, C. Tracy Orleans, and

Dianne C. Barker. British Medical Journal. ?Effects of Restrictions on smoking

at home, at school, and in public places on teenage smoking.? August 5, 2000.

v321 i7257 p333.

Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. ?Parents and peers influence smoking, drinking.?

Feb. 5, 2001. v13. i6. p6.

Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. ?Correlates of Parental Characteristics and

Smoking Behavior Among Their Children.? March, 2000. v71. i6. pA-36.

The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter. ?Adolescent smoking,

drinking behavior studied.? Dec. 2000. v16. i12. p3.

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