Purpose: To investigate whether parenting style is an independent risk factor of smoking initiation and experimentation among adolescents, and whether there is a relationship between parenting style and readiness to quit, or nicotine dependence among smokers.
Methods: The 84-item Health and Smoking Questionnaire, which assesses demographics, smoking status and smoking history, perceptions of risk and risk reduction, risk factors for tobacco use, and parenting style, was administered to 816 adolescents in grades 7 to 12 (mean age, 15.1 years) of whom 22.6% (n = 182) were smokers. Parenting style was measured by the brief, non-retrospective version of the Family of Origin Scale (FOS). Higher scores on the FOS indicated more positive perceived parenting style with high levels of intimacy and autonomy, characteristics of healthy parent-child relationships. Data were analyzed using a model-building approach to logistic regression with demographic and other psychosocial variables in the first two steps, and with parenting style as the last step.
Results: Results from two logistic regression models indicate that although parenting style is not a significant risk factor for smoking experimentation [odds ratio (OR) =.998; confidence interval (CI) =.977-1.019; p =.820], it is a significant independent risk factor for smoking initiation (OR =.950; CI =.930-.970; p =.000). Smokers who were more ready to quit had higher parenting style scores than those who were not ready to quit, and smokers who had made a serious quit attempt (an indicator of nicotine addiction) had higher parenting style scores than those who had not made a quit attempt. Moreover, nonsmokers who reported they would smoke a cigarette if their best friend offered had significantly lower parenting style scores than those who reported they would not smoke a cigarette.
Conclusions: Additional research on parenting style and its impact on adolescent smoking with a more economically and ethnically diverse sample is warranted. If future research confirms the strength of the relationship between parenting style and adolescent smoking, teaching positive parenting, including facilitating intimate yet autonomous relationships, may be considered as part of smoking prevention and cessation programs.