As if divorcing parents weren’t already shouldering enough guilt about how the split might harm their kids, researchers at the University of Toronto are now suggesting that children of divorce are more likely to take up smoking compared to children of married parents – and the numbers are startling.
The study, which was published in March’s edition of Public Health, looked at responses from 19,000 men and women aged 18 and older who were asked if they had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives.
After crunching the numbers, researchers found that males whose parents divorced were 48% more likely to answer “yes” than their counterparts with married parents. For females, the number was 39%.
“Parental divorce is so common, so to see this high of an association with one of the major risk factors for most major chronic diseases struck me as concerning,” commented Esme Fuller-Thomson, the study’s lead author and a professor of social work. “It may be because of the calming effect of nicotine. They are under stress, this helps them cope.”
Fuller-Thomson also cautioned that the implications of her study’s “disturbing” findings aren’t likely to diminish in the near future, given that divorce is on the increase. “This is a serious public health concern, particularly in the context where a growing proportion of the population has experienced parental divorce.”
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