ImpacTeen Research Papers
Parental Influences, Public Policy, and Youth Smoking Behavior
Powell LM and Chaloupka FJ.
Objectives. The purpose of this paper is to jointly examine the importance of parental influences, prices, and tobacco control policies on the smoking behavior of youths.
Methods. Data are drawn from the Audits & Surveys (A&S) 1996 survey of high school students across the United States from “The Study of Smoking and Tobacco Use Among Young People” to examine the impact of parental influences on the probability of youth smoking in the context of both specific observable parenting behaviors and in terms of youths’ perceptions of the importance of their parents’ opinions.
Results. The key finding is that parental influences play a significant role in youth smoking decisions. Our results by age reveal that specific modifications related to improving communication channels and implementing home smoking rules and more general changes that improve the quality of the parent-child relationship such that teens place a higher value on their parents’ opinions are likely to be particularly effective in the early teen years. Parental influences are found to play a relatively stronger role in the smoking behavior of female and white youths when we estimate our models separately by gender and race.
Conclusions. A comprehensive approach beyond the standard tobacco control policies is the best way to effectively reduce youth smoking. The results from this study show that in addition to controlling for prices and youth access measures, it is also important that policymakers solicit the help of parents in the fight against youth smoking. Campaigns to inform/educate parents about their potential impact on the smoking behavior of their children and the encouragement of parents to modify their behavior should be made part of a national strategy to reduce youth smoking.