Former smokers who encourage their children not to smoke are less likely to relapse

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— Parents who quit smoking and then participate in a program encouraging their children not to smoke are nearly twice as likely to be smoke-free in a year, according to a new study by RTI International and supported by the National Cancer Institute. 

The study, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, is the first to evaluate whether relapse can be prevented by engaging parents who recently quit smoking to participate in an anti-smoking educational program with their children. 

"This study is unique in that it focuses on preventing relapse by encouraging adults who have recently quit smoking to talk to their children about not smoking, rather than focusing how recent quitters can overcome cravings and resist triggers," said Christine Jackson, Ph.D., senior social scientist at RTI and co-author of the study.

The study focused on adult smokers who recently called Quitlines, a tobacco cessation service, and were parents of 8 to 10-year-old children. Those who participated in the program, called "Smoke-free Kids," received six monthly kits containing materials designed to enable them to engage their children in anti-smoking related activities. 

One activity, a scripted interview, provided questions that children could ask their parents related to their previous smoking motivations and habits. Another encouraged parents to talk to their children about their reasons for wanting to quit smoking and their experiences with addiction. 

The results showed that parents who participated in the program, regardless of the number of cigarettes they smoked each day prior to quitting, were 1.5 times more likely to be smoke-free at one year. 

"The program leveraged parents' expertise as smokers by engaging them to educate their children about addiction, withdrawal and relapse," Jackson said. "Further research is needed to replicate this preliminary finding and to understand the psychological factors that explain how engaging children in anti-smoking activities can be effective in preventing relapse."

 

smoker lighting a cigarette

Highlights

  • Parents who quit smoking and then participate in a program encouraging their children not to smoke are nearly twice as likely to be smoke-free in a year
  • The study is the first to evaluate whether relapse can be prevented by talking to children about smoking risks