Page last updated at 05:56 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 06:56 UK

Fatherly chats influence smoking, Cardiff study finds

Packet of cigarettes
The study involved 3,500 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15

Boys and girls who discuss issues that are important to them with their fathers are less likely to smoke in their early years, a study has found.

A big factor in stopping children trying cigarettes was how often their fathers talked with them about "things that mattered".

The study by Dr James White, of Cardiff University, involved 3,500 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15.

He said fathers should be encouraged to talk to their children more often.

Dr White, of the university's School of Medicine, will present his findings to the British Psychological Society's annual conference later.

The three-year study used data from the British Youth Panel Survey.

Youngsters were asked to rate how often they spoke to their fathers on issues that were important to them on a scale of from "hardly ever" to "most days".

Dr James White of Cardiff University
Fathers should be encouraged and supported to improve the quality and frequency of communication with their children
Dr James White

What was important to them depended on the child and could cover any subject.

Only children who had never smoked at the time the study began took part.

After three years, the responses of children who had remained non smokers were compared to those who said they had experimented with smoking at some point.

Dr White said: "This study suggests that a greater awareness of parents' and especially fathers' potential impact upon their teenagers' choices about whether to smoke is needed.

"Fathers should be encouraged and supported to improve the quality and frequency of communication with their children during adolescence.

"The impact of teenager parenting is relatively un-researched and further research is very much needed."

'Arguments'

He said the study also looked at the influence of mothers and while they did not seem to be as influential in terms of smoking, Dr White said they were a positive influence in many other aspects of a child's wellbeing.

As well as their smoking, the children were also asked about the frequency of parental communication, arguments with family members and the frequency of family meals.

The study found the frequency of family arguments and family meals did not have a significant effect.

Dr White said recognised risk factors for smoking, such as age, gender, household income, parental monitoring and parental smoking were all taken into account during analysis of the study's findings.



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