Background: Associations are examined between parental smoking and smoking onset by their children. Smoking parents are more likely to have children who start smoking in their teenage years; however, less is known about whether parental quitting is related to adolescent smoking.
Methods: A cross-sectional national sample of 2,206 adolescents, ages 10-14 years, living in two-parent households were interviewed for the DEFACTO annual report on Dutch youth smoking behavior. Adolescent smokers reported that they have tried smoking, even one puff. Respondents indicated whether their parents were never, former, or current smokers, and provided, in the case a parent had quit, their age at that time.
Results: Logistic regression analyses revealed that likelihood increased gradually: adolescents with both parents being current smokers were four times more likely to be a smoker compared to adolescents with parents who had never smoked. Additionally, within the group of adolescents whose parents quit smoking, the findings demonstrated that the earlier the parents stopped smoking in the life of their offspring, the less likely their children were to start smoking in adolescence.
Conclusions: Parental smoking history is associated with smoking initiation in early adolescence. Parental cessation at an early age of their offspring reduces the likelihood of adolescent smoking initiation. Preventive efforts, therefore, should focus on the benefits of parental cessation as early as possible.