Teenagers who have strict household smoking ban are less likely to experiment with cigarettes, according to a new study.
Youths who lived with nonsmokers but didn't have a household smoking ban were nearly twice as likely to try cigarettes, compared to teens whose parents banned smoking, the study found.
"This basic intervention — implementing a household smoking ban — has the potential to promote antismoking norms and to prevent adolescent smoking," said lead study author Alison Albers, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health.
Albers and colleagues interviewed 2,217 Massachusetts adolescents ages 12 to 17, and followed them for four years.
They discovered that teens living in households that did not ban smoking were more likely to report smoking as socially acceptable, compared to teens whose parents banned smoking.
Teens whose parents allowed smoking at home also tended to believe that a higher percentage of adults in their town smoked, compared to teens with household bans.
Forbidding smoking at home was also related to reduced incidence of smoking experimentation, although this only occurred in youth who lived with nonsmokers, the authors report in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Youths who lived with nonsmokers but did not have a household smoking ban were nearly twice as likely to begin experimenting with cigarettes, compared to teens whose parents banned smoking.
"Adolescents are faced with so many influences that contribute to smoking attitudes and behaviors . . . to find that a simple household rule that bans smoking in the home has a meaningful impact on smoking attitudes and behaviors is somewhat surprising," Albers said.
"This study provides evidence that even in a smoke-free home environment, parental behavior remains a strong influence on teen smoking attitudes and behavior," said Mary Hrywna, manager of the Center for Tobacco Surveillance & Evaluation Research at the University of Medicine and Dentistry and New Jersey School of Public Health in New Brunswick.
"These bans send a strong message to teens that it's not okay to smoke, and in the face of so many other external factors that may influence teens to smoke — peers, advertising — a home smoking policy is one thing that parents can control to some extent," Hrywna said.