Study: Smokers more likely to light up because of parents who smoke

Seven out of 10 heavy smokers started smoking while living with their parents and followed their unhealthy example.

Smoking cigarette 370 (photo credit: Daniel Munoz/Reuters)
Smoking cigarette 370
(photo credit: Daniel Munoz/Reuters)
If you don’t want your children to smoke tobacco, don’t smoke it yourself.
That is the main conclusion of a survey that found 73 percent of heavy smokers are children of parents who light up.
In fact, seven out of 10 heavy smokers started smoking while living with their parents and followed their unhealthy example, and most of them didn’t even try to hide the fact from their parents. Almost 80% of the children who smoked tried to persuade their parents to kick the habit, but they did not succeed.
The survey was conducted by Yifat Gat-Mutagim polling company among a representative sample of 301 Israelis aged 25 and up who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day and are thus considered “heavy” smokers. The margin of error was 3 percentage points. More than 80 percent smoked between 11 to 20 cigarettes daily, 16.6% between 20 to 40 a day, and 2% more than two packets a day. It was commissioned by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, which makes a prescription drug included in the basket of health services to promote smoking cessation.
Jerusalemites were much less likely to be heavy smokers (or to admit they were), with only 7.7% smoking 10 a day or more, compared to 41.4% in the Dan region, 21.7% in the North, 16.2% in the South and 13% in the Sharon region.
Almost two in five smokers said their parents’ smoking caused them to want to smoke as well. While they learned the bad habit from their parents, 96.4% said they would be happy if their children didn’t smoke even though they themselves continue to light up.
Six out of 10 of the heavy smokers tried in the past to quit, most of them on their own without any psychological or pharmacological treatment. Of those who said they still wanted to quit, 48.2% said they had health reasons for doing so. The second most popular reason for wanting to kick the habit was cost, while other explanations were pressure from a child or spouse, their doctors’ recommendations, social pressure and the difficulty in taking part in sport due to shortness of breath.
Dr. Michael Weinfass, a family medicine specialist, said the survey pointed up the fact that smokers are raising a new generation of smokers.
“There is no substitute for personal example,” he said. “It’s important for parents to give up smoking so their children do not learn to do it from them.”