Reuters reported that a study of 459 eighth graders from diverse backgrounds found that those students were less likely to smoke if their parents actively set limits. The study was notable for its composition, according to study leader Cassandra Stanton of Georgetown University. She and her colleagues studied students in a low-income, urban school district in the Northeast that included significant percentages of Hispanic and African American families.
Cultural backgrounds made no difference in whether the kids eventually smoked, but the stricter parenting style did, the team found.
Stanton’s group found that what they called controlling parenting, which was associated with rule enforcement, curfews and set bedtimes, was more likely than a less strict, more understanding parenting style to go hand in hand with so-called anti-tobacco parenting strategies.
Those anti-tobacco strategies include punishing a child if he or she has been caught smoking and discussing with the child the motivations behind smoking and why smoking is so dangerous. Being on the receiving end of such anti-tobacco strategies was in turn linked to a lower likelihood of lifetime smoking for the student.
The association held regardless of race or ethnicity, which the researchers say should be reassuring because other cultural differences don’t seem to alter the effectiveness of this approach.
It is important for parents to take an active role in protecting their children from developing an addiction to tobacco, Stanton said.
“Setting and enforcing clear standards of behavior and actively monitoring and supervising a teen’s activities are important strategies for protecting youth from risky behavior,” she said.
“To protect youth from experimenting with tobacco and ultimately developing an addiction to tobacco, it is important to talk about the risks of tobacco, as well as set and enforce clear rules and consequences that are specific to tobacco.”