Children from divorced parents much more likely to smoke

By Sheryl Kay • Published: June 21st, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Divorce may be very common these days, but with it comes many uncommon and often times some very unpleasant side effects.

A study just published in the journal Public Health shows that overwhelmingly, children from divorced parents are far more likely to smoke cigarettes than their counterparts coming from intact marriages.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, investigators looked at the records of more than 19,000 young men and women ages 18 and up. At the start of the investigation the researchers noted that fifteen-hundred sons and twenty-three hundred daughters came from divorced homes. Analysis also showed that about 4,000 men and just over 5,000 women reported they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes.

The researchers then compared the number of smokers coming from divorced families with those whose families had remained intact. They found that even after taking other factors into account, like lower levels of education among the children of divorce, adult mental health issues or other early childhood traumas, men whose parents divorced before they turned 18 still had 48 percent higher odds of ever smoking while women from divorced homes were 39 percent more likely to smoke in comparison to women whose parents were still together.

Worried your child might pick up the habit? The best way to prevent smoking in kids is to not smoke yourself. Also, talk to your children about the dangers of lighting up. Another good tip is to remind kids of all the better things they can spend money on than cigarettes. After all, a new iPad probably sounds a lot more appealing than a few months’ worth of cigarettes.