Social smoking

| July 12, 2018

Two consecutive generations of children in the UK had dramatically different rates of smoking, and one major reason for this may comprise the changing socioeconomic status and behaviors of their parents and friends, according to a story by Cheryl Platzman Weinstock for Reuters, citing the results of new research.

The US study team, led by Jeremy Staff of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, were said to have analyzed data on two large groups of UK children: one made up of children born during one week in April 1970, the other of children born between late 2000 and early 2002.

A total of 23,506 children answered questionnaires at ages 10 or 11. The researchers also had data about the children’s parents, including their educational and smoking histories, as well as their household incomes.

Overall, 14.5 percent of the children born in 1970 had smoked at least one cigarette by the age of 10-11, while that was true for only 2.4 percent of the later generation.

In addition, while 14 percent of the children born in 1970 had a friend at age 10-11 who smoked, five percent in the later generation did.

Another difference between generations involved the children’s mothers: in the older generation, 57 percent of mothers had no higher education; in the newer generation, that had fallen to eight percent. In addition, about 43 percent of the mothers of the older generation were smokers themselves when their child was five years old, and that had fallen to 33 percent for the younger generation.

While the overall drop in early smoking from one generation to the next was “cause for celebration,” the authors wrote, the results also highlighted the fact that “childhood smoking in today’s young people in the UK is now more strongly linked to early life disadvantages compared to a generation ago”.

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Category: Breaking News, People

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