Family roles and smoking

Am J Prev Med. 1989 May-Jun;5(3):136-41.


This study analyzes the relationships of cigarette smoking and smoking histories to marital and parental status. Data from a large, representative sample of U.S. adults in 1985 were analyzed separately for white men, white women, black men, and black women, with controls for age, education, and marital status included in the analyses. Divorced and separated adults were the most likely to be current smokers or ever to have adopted smoking; currently married adults and widowed adults were intermediate; and never married adults were the least likely to be current smokers or ever to have adopted smoking. (There were some exceptions to these patterns for never married and widowed blacks). The differences in smoking adoption had begun during adolescence, before the usual age of marriage, which suggests that the differences in smoking, adoption were not caused by marriage or divorce. Rather, it appears that personal characteristics or early experiences influenced both the likelihood of smoking adoption and the likelihood of marriage or divorce. Currently married adults were more likely to have quit smoking than never married, divorced and separated, or widowed adults. It may be that the social support provided by marriage increases smoking cessation. In contrast to the strong relationships between marital status and smoking, relationships between parental status and smoking were relatively weak and variable. Among white women, mothers of preschoolers were less likely to be smokers than women without children. The mothers of preschoolers were more likely to have quit smoking, possibly as a result of increased smoking cessation during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology
  • Role*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Whites