Children stop women smoking

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The Independent Online

Having children makes a woman more likely to give up smoking, and the more children she has, the more likely she is to succeed.

Poor women are as likely to quit as well-off mothers, according to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, a finding which challenges the belief that the stress of caring for children in deprived circumstances prevents women from quitting.

The findings, published in the journal Addiction, have important implications, as smoking by parents carries an approximate doubling of the risk that their children will take up smoking in adolescence. The report analysed data on 16,000 16- to 49-year-olds.

Poor people are less likely than the rich to give up smoking unless a woman has children. The odds on quitting increase by almost 40 per cent for a woman with one child, and almost double if she has three or more children.

Being a father has less influence. It is increases the likelihood of stopping by 25 per cent.

Older parents showed stronger evidence of quitting than younger adults. In men and women aged 30 or less there was no evidence of increased rates of stopping smoking in those with dependent children.

This is the first time research has revealed the beneficial effects of children on their parents smoking. The results were independent of major socio-economic influences on quitting.

Martin Jarvis, deputy head of the ICRF health behaviour unit and author of the report said: "These findings show parents with children are more likely to quit smoking, but don't tell us why. Likely explanations include household budgets, nagging from children, protecting children's health from second-hand smoke and concern among parents about presenting an appropriate role model.

"It suggests money may not be the most important motivating influence in quitting."