“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.”
In the study entitled “The Gender-Specific Association Between Childhood Adversities and Smoking in Adulthood: Findings from a Population Based Study,” investigators examined a representative sample of 7,850 men and 11,506 women aged 18 and over, drawn from the Center for Disease Control’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. A total of 1,551 sons and 2,382 daughters had experienced their parents’ divorce before the age of 18. A total of 4,316 men and 5,072 women reported that they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their life.