February 3, 2011 - A new study shows that smoking habits follow gender lines in the household. In other words: like father, like son; like mother, like daughter. If there is a smoker in the home then the children are more likely to smoke.
The British Household Panel Survey 1994-2002 data was used to examine the inter-generational implications of smoking habits. This new information may not be a huge surprise because it is at least loosely accepted that children mimic their parents, after all they are primary models for children. The results show just how much smoking habits are passed from parent to child, especially between the same gender, a very important discovery that has implications for anti-smoking campaigns.
Looking at the data of two parent homes where the father and mother smoked, the child of the same gender of the smoking parent has a higher likelihood of picking up their parents smoking habits. Smoking rates for sons was 24% and 23% for daughters, but this number drops to 12% for both genders if neither parent smokes. Parents can reduce the chances that their kids will smoke by quitting smoking themselves.
Of note, the highest rate of parent to child smoking was found in single mother households. Smoking habits are passed more significantly to sons than daughters in this case, but both percentages are higher than two parent smoking households. If there was any question that single parent households negatively impact children this is a good place to start. In single-parent households, mothers transmit their smoking habits to their children -- regardless of their gender. In this case, a son's likelihood of smoking if the mother smokes is 32%, and 28% for a daughter.
Reference: Rant Parents Pass Smoking Habits to Children by Gender, rantrave.com, 2/1/2011