FRIDAY, Aug. 22, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that parents who enforce a no-smoking ban at home are less likely to have teens who experiment with cigarettes.
The Massachusetts study, which followed more than 2,200 children, ages 12 to 17, for four years, also found that teens living in households that allowed smoking were more likely to find smoking as socially acceptable. Teens whose parents allowed smoking at home also tended to think a higher percentage of local adults smoked, compared to teens with household bans.
"This basic intervention -- implementing a household smoking ban -- has the potential to promote antismoking norms and to prevent adolescent smoking," lead study author Alison Albers, an assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health, said in a news release issued by the Center for the Advancement of Health.
The findings are published in the October issue of the center's American Journal of Public Health.
Forbidding smoking at home appeared to reduce the incidence of smoking experimentation, although this only occurred in children who lived with nonsmokers. The teens who lived with nonsmokers but did not have a household smoking ban were nearly twice as likely to try cigarettes, compared to those whose parents banned smoking.
"This study provides evidence that even in a smoke-free home environment, parental behavior remains a strong influence on teen smoking attitudes and behavior," Mary Hrywna, manager of the Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research at the University of Medicine and Dentistry and New Jersey School of Public Health in New Brunswick, said in the same news release.
"These bans send a strong message to teens that it's not OK 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."
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about how nicotine works.