May 15, 2009

Black parents lay down law on smoking

Fewer black youths than whites begin smoking as adolescents, but black adults are more likely to smoke than white adults, U.S. researchers say.

The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, suggests lower rates of smoking among black teens may be the result of black parents setting concrete guidelines about substance use and establishing clearly defined consequences for not following those guidelines.

Lead author Martie Skinner of the University of Washington and colleagues say that teens who associated with those who were in trouble at school, engaged in delinquent behavior, or used alcohol or marijuana, were more likely to smoke.

This study is important because we looked at how parental guidelines affected peer influences and smoking over a three-year period from the eighth to 10th grades, Skinner says in a statement. Parents can have a strong influence on smoking behavior.

The study finds that 15 percent of the black teens reported smoking in the 10th grade compared to 22 percent of the white teens. Black parents were significantly more likely to report guidelines and consequences for substance use.

Black and white teens whose parents smoked reported higher levels of smoking than teens whose parents were non-smokers, the study says.