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Health Educ Res. 2012 Feb;27(1):46-56. doi: 10.1093/her/cyr067. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

The contribution of parent-child interactions to smoking experimentation in adolescence: implications for prevention.

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  • 1Department of Primary Care and Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, 4th Floor Neuadd Meirionnydd, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4YS, UK.


Because few prospective studies have examined the independent influence of mothers and fathers on smoking experimentation, we tested the association between a set of parent-specific, familial and peer interactions with smoking experimentation in early adolescence. Data come from two cohorts in the British Youth Panel Survey (N = 1736; mean age at baseline, 11.26; SD = 0.65), a study of children resident with members of the British Household Panel Survey. Baseline data showed 8.2% of participants had smoked which increased to 40.3% after a 3-year follow-up. Multivariate logistic regression models showed risk factors for the onset of experimentation included frequent time spent with peers (P < 0.001), maternal smoking (P = 0.001), female gender and older participant age (P < 0.001). Parent-child quarrels, mother-child conversations, family meal frequency and household income were not significantly associated with experimentation. Frequent father-child conversations, about things which mattered to children, were the only type of parent-child contact associated with a reduced risk of experimentation (P < 0.001), and a significant interaction suggested that maternal smoking increased the likelihood of girls but not boys experimentation (P = 0.01). This study suggests that familial risk and protective factors operate independently and that more attention should be paid to the role of fathers in smoking prevention.

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