Parents who quit smoking are less likely to go back to their habit when they discuss the bad effects of smoking on one's health with their kids, a new study has found.

Researchers from the Public Health Research Division of RTI International conducted a study to determine if engaging parents, who quit smoking, in anti-smoking socialization with their children would help prevent the parents from relapsing into the habit.

The team examined the data of callers who have children aged 8 years old to 10 years old from the help hotline Quitlines in 11 states. Out of more than 1,600 parents, 689 quit smoking for at least 24 hours after calling.

The parents were divided into treatment and control groups wherein half of the parents received educational materials, such as magazines about tobacco use risks and activities, to aid in their discussion of the dangers of smoking with their children. The other half received no help at all.

The 30-day abstinence was measured through phone interviews conducted at seven months and 12 months. The follow-up interviews were used to gauge if they had sustained their decision to quit smoking. At the end of the study, only 465 parents remained out of the original 689.

After adjusting measures for the ones who dropped out of the study, they found the parents who discussed the bad effects of smoking were twice more likely to be abstinent for one year. This study is the first one to explore the link between parent-child interaction about smoking and the ability of parents to ditch the habit.

"Our research is important because it suggests an entirely new approach to helping adults, specifically adults who are parents of school-aged children, succeed in quitting smoking," Dr. Christine Jackson of RTI International said.

According to a previous study, kids and teens are likely to be influenced by older siblings and parents to start smoking.

"Parents' influence on youth smoking is not new, but the quality of this data has followed the parents for more than 20 years and shows the history of their smoking patterns, specifically length and amount, and how that has affected their children," Mike Vuolo, author of the study and assistant professor of sociology, said.

This study demonstrated the influence of parents on their children and, at the same time, how their accountability to their children may also affect their decision to continue or quit smoking.

"Humans tend to want to act consistent with what they teach others. By teaching your child, you hold yourself more accountable. If you teach it, you are more likely to do it yourself," Jonathan Bricker, a behavioral scientist at the University of Washington, who wasn't involved in the study, commented.

Photo: Chuck Grimmett | Flickr

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