The intergenerational transmission of tobacco smoking-The role of parents' long-term smoking trajectories

Maria Melchior, Jean François Chastang, Dorene Mackinnon, Cédric Galéra, Eric Fombonne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Youths whose parents smoke tobacco may be at elevated risk of smoking themselves. However, the association between parental long-term smoking history and offspring regular tobacco use is not well known. Using data collected on 1121 youths (12-26 years) participating in the GAZEL Youth study, a French community-based cohort, we tested the association between parental long-term smoking trajectory and offspring regular smoking. Parental smoking trajectory over 11 years (1989-1999) was measured by yearly reports obtained from the parent. Statistical analyses controlled for youth's sex, age, alcohol use and disruptive behavioral problems, parent's sex, as well as family socioeconomic position. Overall, 27% of study youths smoked regularly. Compared to offspring of non-smokers, those of persistent smokers had twofold smoking rates (age and sex-adjusted OR: 1.91, 95% CI: 1.30-2.79, fully-adjusted OR: 1.96, 95% CI: 1.31-2.93). Additionally, persistent parental smoking predicted offspring heavy smoking and early smoking initiation. Overall, maternal smoking was more strongly associated with youths' regular smoking than paternal smoking (fully-adjusted ORs: 3.12, 95% 1.58-6.16 vs. 1.47, 95% 0.87-2.49). These results suggest that efforts to decrease the burden of tobacco smoking among youths may be more efficient if focused on families rather than on individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-260
Number of pages4
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Epidemiology
  • Longitudinal study
  • Parental smoking history
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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