A recent study has found that exposure to smoking in the home has become more strongly associated with when adolescents start smoking. The study, which was undertaken by Jude Ball and colleagues at Otago University, investigated the influence of peer and parental smoking exposure on adolescent smoking uptake. Results suggest that smoking outside not only protects kids from second hand smoke but also makes it much less likely that teens will take up smoking themselves.
Hāpai Te Hauora CEO, Lance Norman explains "these findings tell us that reducing smoking at home could have an especially positive impact on rangatahi, given that we are disproportionately burdened by higher rates of smoking and exposure at home".
Aotearoa is considered a world leader in tobacco control, and effective policies, programmes, and campaigns have contributed to a reduction in smoking rates. This success, however has not extended to Māori who continue to experience significant challenges around reducing smoking initiation.
Norman also believes that addressing individual behaviours like household patterns wouldn’t be nearly as effective as dealing with the key causes of why whānau feel more pressures to smoke to begin with. "Research consistently tells us that the places we eat, sleep, live and play determine how likely we are to smoke, but this is shaped by how much money and power a person has. Of course kids are going to be triggered to smoke if that’s what those around them do, but let’s address why mum and dad feel the need to smoke in the first place- stress, stigma, and financial hardship".
These results suggest that the wellbeing of families is linked with intergenerational behaviour. Parent’s and caregivers in the home have the potential to foster positive and collective influence with their children should they be empowered to make changes to their smoking behaviours.