Parents who smoke heavily likely to influence children

The dangers of smoking have been widely documented, from causing lung cancer to adversely affecting those in the immediate area with second-hand smoke. However, researchers have found yet another reason people should steer clear of this unhealthy habit. 

A study published in Pediatrics, led by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists, showed that parents' smoking behaviors have a significant impact on their adolescent offspring. The data revealed that children with parents who smoke are more likely to become smokers themselves, which could help answer the debate of why smoking continues to persists from generation to generation. 

"It is difficult to dissuade children from smoking if one or both parents are heavily dependent on cigarettes," said Darren Mays, an assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi and the study's lead investigator. "It is also important for parents who smoke to know that their children may model the behavior, particularly if a parent is nicotine dependent."

The study's authors categorized nicotine dependence as someone who has cravings to smoke, needing more of the addictive substance to feel the same effects and experiencing withdrawal without sustained use of the drug.

"Our study supports the need for pediatric clinics to be vigilant about the smoking habits of their patients and their patients' parents," said Mays. "For parents who want to quit, help can be provided."

Raymond Niaura, an adjunct professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi, associate director for science of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies in Washington and another  a lead investigator, said that this study is one of the most comprehensive in investigating the risks of smoking for adolescents, as it relates to familial life. 

How to kick a smoking habit
Quitting smoking is no easy task. Nicotine is highly addictive, and using cigarettes is a lifestyle habit. Whether it's smoking after every meal or reaching for a cigarette when the work day is over, smokers can get set in their ways, and kicking the habit can be tough. However, quitting is possible. No matter what age, someone can stop smoking. Senior wellness will be improved and children will also likely benefit as a result of ending the habit. Here are some tips to get going: 

  • Tell friends and family: If individuals decide to quit smoking, they should tell their loved ones. Friends and family will become a support system to help reduce and eventually stop this habit.
  • Get tobacco products out of a home: Temptation can be a tough aspect of quitting, so a smoker should get rid of nicotine. Out of sight is out of mind. 
  • Talk to a doctor: A doctor can offer a number of suggestions or even prescription medication to help someone quit smoking. 
  • Over-the-counter products: Instead of seeing a doctor, there are a wide variety of remedies available to help someone stop smoking. From gum to patches, these products can wean individuals off nicotine until their addiction is gone. 
  • Pick a date to be smoke-free: To ensure smokers stick to their dedication to stop smoking, they should have a date in mind they'll stop and try and meet that goal. 

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Pete Blasi