Intergenerational transfer of smoking across three generations and forty-five years

Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jan;16(1):11-7. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt112. Epub 2013 Aug 13.


Objectives: Although many have examined the linkages between smoking behaviors across 2 generations, few have examined these linkages among 3 generations.

Methods: U.S. population representative data for 3 generations are drawn from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) in order to examine whether smoking behaviors are passed down from generation to generation and the magnitude of the influence of smoking behaviors across generations (N = 830).

Results: Results indicate direct linkages between both grandparent (G1) and parent (G2) smoking (OR = 4.53; 95% CI = 2.57-7.97) and parent (G2) and young adult offspring (G3) smoking (OR = 2.91; 95% CI = 1.60-5.31). Although the direct link between grandparent (G1) and grandchildren (G3) was not significant (OR = 2.25; 95% CI = 0.96-5.23, p < .10), mediation analyses reveal that the link between G3 and G1 smoking is significantly mediated by G2 smoking.

Conclusions: Regardless of generation, parent smoking behavior has a direct influence on offspring smoking behavior. The link between grandparent (G1) and grandchild (G3) smoking is mediated by parent (G2) smoking, suggesting that smoking behavior is passed from one generation to the next generation and in turn to the next generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult