In January 1964, the Surgeon General's office released its report demonstrating the strong potential relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer as well as the pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases which afflict thousands each year.1
Since that time, an estimated 30 million Americans have quit smoking; but, during the last two years, there has been a noticeable increase in per capita cigarette consumption among women and teen-age girls.2 Every day 3,200 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 take up smoking (exclusive of those who are just experimenting with smoking, the 10- to 12-year-olds).3 The Bureau of Census estimates that the number of teen-agers smoking rose from 3 million to approximately 4 million between 1968 and 1972. The proportion of smokers in the 12 to 18 age group increased from 14.7% to 15.7% among boys and 8.4% to 13.3% among girls.4
Analysis of research by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on teen-age populations indicates there are many environmental factors that affect the initiation of the smoking habit; however, by far the strongest influence is the smoking behavior of parents and siblings.5 If both parents smoke, the teen-ager has about twice the likelihood of being a smoker than if neither parent smokes (the rates are 18.4% to 9.8% respectively). If an older brother or sister smokes, the teen-ager is twice as likely to become a smoker himself.5
When the combined effect of smoking of parents and older siblings is considered, the concept of family patterns is reinforced. The lowest level of smoking is found among teen-agers who live in nonsmoking households.
- Copyright © 1976 by the American Academy of Pediatrics