Study: Children of divorce more likely to become smokers

Published: Friday, March 15 2013 2:20 p.m. MDT

In this July 20, 2006 file photo, a woman smokes a cigarette during a break from work in downtown Chicago.

Julio Cortez, Associated Press

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A study published by the Public Health Journal conducted by the University of Toronto indicates that adults whose parents divorced were more likely to smoke.

"Researchers at the University of Toronto weren't able to prove that children of divorced parents turn to cigarettes as a coping mechanism from lingering childhood trauma," The Atlantic reported. However, "they did find that people whose parents had divorced when they were children were at a significantly increased risk of initiating smoking."

"Finding this link between parental divorce and smoking is very disturbing," says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Chair at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. "We had anticipated that the association between parental divorce and smoking would have been explained by one or more of three plausible factors, such as lower levels of education or adult income among the children of divorce; adult mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety among the children of divorce, or other co-occurring early childhood traumas, such as parental addictions or childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

"Each of these characteristics has been shown in other studies to be linked with smoking initiation. However, even when we took all these factors into account, a strong and significant association between parental divorce and smoking remained."

The research indicated that out of the 19,000 U.S. adults surveyed, the odds of having smoked 100 or more cigarettes increased by 48 percent for sons of divorced or separated parents, and 39 percent for daughters.

To read more on the Study: Children of divorce more likely to become smokers, visit The Atlantic.

Editor's Note: The original version of this story posted on July 3, 2013, failed to properly attribute all source materials, which violates our editorial policies. The story was revised on Oct. 10, 2013, to link to original source material.

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