Two-year-olds influenced by parental smoking

时间:2019-02-28 06:10:01166网络整理admin

By Gaia Vince Children as young as 2 years old may be influenced by their parents’ tobacco habits, many years before they even consider using cigarettes themselves, a novel study has shown. Young children’s attitudes to smoking and alcohol have been difficult to assess due to their limited language skills, so information on social influences has focused on teenagers – the group most likely to take up smoking or drinking. But a new study offers insight into the effect early exposure can have on the behaviour of very young children. Researchers from Dartmouth Medical College in New Hampshire, US, used dolls in a role-playing game with children from 2 to 6 years of age. The child was told to take the doll shopping as there was no food in the dollhouse. When the doll entered the doll grocery store, which had 73 products on display, the researchers noted which products were “purchased”. Children were nearly four times as likely to buy cigarettes if their parents smoked, and three times as likely to choose wine or beer if their parents drank alcohol at least once a month. Children who viewed PG-13 or R-rated movies were five times as likely to choose alcohol, they found. “Several children were also highly aware of cigarette brands, as illustrated by the 6-year-old boy who was able to identify the brand of cigarettes he was buying as Marlboros, but could not identify the brand of his favourite cereal as Lucky Charms,” says paediatrician Madeline Dalton, who led the study. Although it is not clear whether the children were more likely to ultimately smoke or drink alcohol, the study provides “compelling evidence that the process of ‘initiation’ – which typically involves shifts in attitudes and expectations about behaviour – begins as young as three years of age,” Dalton claims. The researchers comment that alcohol and tobacco-use prevention efforts need to be targeted towards younger children and their parents. The findings were not at all surprising, says Amanda Sanford, research manager for Action on Smoking and Health, a UK campaign group. “It’s been known for a long time that children learn behaviour such as smoking from their parents. Children are two to three times more likely to take up smoking if their parents smoke,” she told New Scientist. “Children are very quickly able to identify brands that are heavily promoted, which is why bans on all tobacco advertising is very important,” she adds. Cigarette advertising was banned in the UK in 2003, and throughout the European Union from 1 August 2005. But it is still prevalent throughout the developing world and the US. Journal reference: Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine (vol 159,