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News / May 22, 2009

Parental smoking a major influence on children

by Guy Hiscott

New research shows that the incidence of smoking increases greatly when both parents are smokers.

The statistics suggest that while 48% of the population are either past or current smokers, this rises to 62% where both the mother and father smoked. Of the 48% of current or past smokers, 78% of these grew up in a house where either parent smoked, whereas with the 52% of non-smokers, 60% had one parent who smoked while 40% had parents who did not smoke at all.

The research is part of the HSE National Health Promotion Tobacco/Smoking Cessation Public Awareness Campaign to help adults quit smoking.

The research also shows:
• Sixty-seven per cent of smokers began smoking before 18 years of age, with 19% having started before 14 years of age
• Fifty-five per cent of current or past smokers say their mother strongly disapproved of their smoking compared with 43% of their fathers
• Approximately one in 10 claim their parents approved of their smoking
• Of current and past smokers, only 57% of their mothers and 46% of their fathers talked to them about the impact smoking can have on their health
• Only 50% of current smokers with dependant children say that they would be very likely to give up smoking if they felt their own smoking would encourage their children to smoke.

A new smoking cessation website has been developed at as part of the campaign, and a range of information material is also available. The website provides a plan to help people quit, along with information about the benefits of quitting.

Welcoming the launch of the HSE campaign, Aine Brady TD, Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, said: ‘Smoking remains a leading public health problem responsible for much preventable illness and death. The HSE National Health Promotion Tobacco/Smoking Cessation Public Awareness Campaign is an important element in encouraging smokers to quit. At a societal level we must continue to support anti-tobacco measures, particularly to prevent children from starting to smoke and to assist those smokers where possible in kicking the habit.’

Smoking causes 30% of all cancers and every year approximately 300 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed, about half of which result in death.