Study: Teens heed parents on smoking

By Lindsey Tanner

Associated Press

CHICAGO — Defying the stereotype of the defiant teen-ager, new research suggests teens are much less likely to smoke if they think their parents disapprove of the habit.

Parental disapproval works even if the parents are smokers, and it can also blunt the effect of peer pressure, shown previously to be a strong influence on whether teens take up smoking, the study found.

"We overrate the rebelliousness of teen-agers," said Dr. James Sargent, an associate professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School.

"That works to our disadvantage," he said, because "parents underestimate their influence on their children. They have an overly heightened concern about coming down hard on their kids about things like smoking because they think it’s just going to make them more rebellious."

Sargent’s study, published in December’s issue of Pediatrics, the journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests the opposite is true.

Sargent and researcher Madeline Dalton surveyed 372 rural Vermont youngsters in 1996 in grades four through 11 who had never smoked. They re-questioned them in the following two years about their parents’ views on smoking, whether their friends smoked and whether they’d started smoking.

Of those youngsters, 284 initially said their parents disapproved of kids’ smoking and 19 percent of them became established smokers by the final survey. By contrast, 41 initially said their parents were lenient about smoking and almost 27 percent of them ended up becoming smokers.

At the start, 258 youngsters said none of their friends smoked and this group was less likely to take up the habit than the 113 with smoking friends. But even among the 113, youngsters whose parents set strong anti-smoking standards were less likely to start smoking than those whose parents were lenient, Sargent said.

In addition, "parents who smoked who set nonsmoking expectations on their kids … had just as much influence as parents who didn’t smoke," he said.

While other research has shown that peers have a big influence on teens’ behavior, the study shows that might be mitigated by strong messages from parents, said Elizabeth Robertson, chief of prevention research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids advocacy group, said the study echoes similar results found in research on alcohol and illegal drugs.

"Teen-agers are in fact as rebellious as people think, but they listen to their parents when they deliver clear messages far more than people realize," Myers said.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Everett
Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Ryan Rafter appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Man sentenced to life in prison for murder of Everett father

In April 2022, Ryan Rafter, 42, shot Christopher Buck, 29, to death after breaking in to his home to steal drugs.

Marysville
Driver strikes, kills Marysville man who was crossing I-5 in Seattle

The man’s car had broken down near Mercer Street. Troopers reported that he was struck when he tried to cross the freeway.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Police: Darrington woman stabbed, buried 5-year-old daughter

The woman reportedly told investigators she was hearing voices before she killed her young daughter on Valentine’s Day.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

A person walks out of the Snohomish County Corrections building on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County Jail review finds no fault in Florida inmate’s death

David Koeppen, 38, was the third inmate in two months to die in the jail. He was being held on murder charges.

Everett
Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. After the speech, Inslee signed a bill sponsored by McCoy that seeks to improve oral health on Indian reservations in Washington state. The measure is the first bill the governor has signed this legislative session and it allows tribes to use federal funding for dental therapists. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Curriculum on state tribes to be renamed after late Tulalip legislator

On Tuesday, John McCoy’s former colleagues in the Senate honored the late lawmaker by passing House Bill 1879.

Lynnwood
Man stabbed, killed inside Lynnwood-area condo

Detectives were looking to identify suspects in a killing Monday night at the Brio Condominiums.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.