Kids Learn to Smoke From Mom

Children with mothers who smoke cigarettes are more likely to be regular marijuana users by early adulthood, a new study suggests.

Part of the link seems to be explained by the fact that children of smokers were more likely to have been rebellious and aggressive as teenagers, the Australian researchers note.

Past studies have found that children of smokers are more likely than their peers to take up the habit themselves; less is known about whether parents’ smoking and drinking habits are related to their children’s marijuana use.

Mom Pregnant and SmokingHowever, many people who use the drug first try it as a teenager, the authors note, and family environment is an important influence on teenagers’ behavior.

Lifestyle Habits Studied

To study the question, Dr Mohammad Reza Hayatbakhsh of the University of Queensland in Brisbane and associates used data from a project that began following a group of pregnant women in Brisbane between 1981 and 1983.

The women had completed questionnaires on their health and lifestyle habits – including smoking and drinking – while they were pregnant, and at several other points as their children grew up.

The researcher then evaluated nearly 3200 of these women’s offspring who were 21 years old, and had been followed since birth. The findings are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

In general, the study found that children who were exposed to their mothers’ smoking as teenagers were twice as likely as their peers to be frequent marijuana users at age 21.

Children of Smokers also Smoke

The children of smokers were also more likely to start smoking cigarettes by age 14.

Further analysis found a relationship between maternal drinking and child marijuana, but further analysis indicated this relationship was not statistically significant.

Early smoking has been linked to a higher likelihood of marijuana use, explained lead study author Hayatbakhsh told Reuters Health.

A “simple message” from these results is that young people’s substance abuse is often a “consequence of the learning process.”

“Children who are exposed to parents’ smoking cigarettes may learn this behaviour.”

“In other words,” Hayatbakhsh said, “parents…who continue to smoke cigarettes during the development of the child not only put themselves at risk of health problems, but also may play as a role model for the children who live with them.”

– (Amy Norton/Reuters Health)

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, September 1, 2007.

3 thoughts on “Kids Learn to Smoke From Mom

  1. chalean

    I am 69 and a Dad of 5 and have always been a smoker. None of my kids smoke or are into drugs and have great lives. They do not like me or my wife to smoke, and I did not lecture them. We do not smoke in the house when they come to visit. We just told them that it was one thing we wished we had never started to do. Our children range in the ages from 45 down to 11. You can be a great parent or a lousy parent, kids learn from each other also. We try to make sure our children are taught the same values as ours. But that does not guarantee a success story. We have been blessed and we kept a close eye on all of them growing up. One more to go. Not to worried about him either. Studies can go to since they are usually centered around the poor, which I grew up as, or the minority. If my child would like to get a little wild, believe me I would prefer smoking over him or her doing drugs. Which would be your choice for your child?

  2. Marsha

    That is a great question Chalean. And it sounds like you have done a fabulous job raising your kids. And it also sounds like your kids have learned how to be an example to their peers, which is also fabulous.

    I am glad that we don’t live in an either/or world. That we get to make our choices dependent on our values, needs, and judgments which we hopefully translate into discernment.

    I would prefer my child to only make choices that support their wellness on all levels. And sometimes contrast is a teacher, thus we create life experiences, and we can learn from the experiences of others too.

    So, if my child chose to smoke cigarettes, I would point them to facts about the dangers of smoking and do whatever I could to get them to quit while reminding them I would never stop loving them while continually providing them evidence of the health dangers.

    If my child chose a non addictive substance like marijuana, I would point them to educational resources to help them understand how the substance may effect them, and be sure they understood the consequences involved. I would again remind them that I loved them.

    And if they choose addictive and harmful drugs I would seek every level of help that I could find, and again let them know that no matter what I would never stop loving them. I might also lock them in their room and keep watch 24/7 while combining that with professional therapy and support.

    Will be interesting to hear how others respond to your question.

  3. Deb

    This was not true for my family. If anything we kids looked at our parents smoking and were revolted by it and we were made sick physically and all swore we would have nothing to do with it. We are not drinkers, we do not smoke or do drugs. It is really up to the personality of the child and what they decide to do. I agree that there is some influence because of what the child is use to seeing but it really comes down to personal choice.


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