Influence of parental education, childhood adversities, and current living conditions on daily smoking in early adulthood

Eur J Public Health. 2006 Dec;16(6):617-26. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckl054. Epub 2006 Apr 26.


Aims: To assess the association of parental education, childhood living conditions and adversities with daily smoking in early adulthood and to analyse the effect of the respondent's own education, main economic activity, and current family structure on these associations.

Methods: The study is based on a representative two-stage cluster sample (N = 1894, participation rate 79%) of young adults aged 18-29, in 2000, in Finland. The outcome measure is daily smoking.

Results: Parental smoking and the respondent's own education had the strongest effects on daily smoking. If both parents of the respondent were smokers, then the respondent was most likely to be a smoker too (for men OR (odds ratio) = 3.01, for women OR = 2.41 after all adjustments). Young adults in the lowest educational category had a much higher risk of daily smoking than those in the highest category (OR = 5.88 for women, 4.48 for men). For women parental divorce (OR = 2.31) and current family structure also determined daily smoking. Parental education had a strong gradient in daily smoking and the effect appeared to be mediated largely by the respondent's own educational level.

Conclusions: Childhood living conditions are strong determinants of daily smoking. Much of their influence seems to be mediated through current living conditions, which are also determined by childhood conditions. Determinants of smoking behaviour are developed throughout the life course. The findings stress the importance of the respondent's education and parental smoking as determinants of smoking behaviour. Our results support the notion that intervention on smoking initiation and cessation should be considered throughout the life course. Parental involvement in fostering non-smoking would be important.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Educational Status
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Parents* / education
  • Parents* / psychology
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking* / epidemiology
  • Smoking* / psychology
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors