Behaviour Depends on Parents

The study draws from the long-running Indiana University (IU) Smoking Survey and builds on previous research that suggests smoking behaviour is influenced by both genetics and the environment.

"This particular study focuses more on the genetic influence in the specific case of a parent's smoking behaviour impacting a teenage son or daughter's smoking," said Jon Macy, project director of the IU Smoking Survey in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. "The study findings suggest that the characteristics of early onset and high levels of long-term smoking are great candidates for behavioural and molecular genetic studies of the causes of smoking and how smoking behaviour is passed from one generation to the next.

Previous studies, many of which relied on parents' current smoking status only, offered mixed results about whether parental smoking is predictive of adolescent smoking. The current study, however, used longitudinal data to identify more detailed information about parental smoking behaviours such as amount of smoking, speed of escalation, peak of use and persistence over time.

The IU Smoking Survey, a 28-year longitudinal study of the natural history of cigarette smoking, is the longest running study of its kind. Researchers began collecting data in 1980 from middle and high school students in Monroe County, Ind. Researchers continue to collect data from participants and have now started surveying their children.

"This study used a more informative description of parental smoking behaviours," Macy said. "We've found that these descriptions might do a better job than current parental smoking status of predicting risk of their adolescent children starting to smoke."; Source: Indiana University