In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers discovered that the children of people who smoked only in their teenage years were still 3.2 times more likely to also pick up the habit, compared to children whose parents had never smoked.
For the study, researchers gathered data from a sample of ninth grade students in St. Paul, Minn. They followed this group from 1988 through age 38 - and then also gathered data from the children of that cohort, starting at age 11.
Overall, they found the rate of smoking was 23 to 29 percent among kids ages 11 and older whose parents had once smoked or currently smoked, compared with 8 percent among children of parents who had never smoked, MedPage Today reported. Children who had older siblings who smoked were also more likely to smoke, researchers reported.
"We don't know exactly what's going on here, but my hypothesis is that there is a genetic predisposition toward smoking," Dr. John Spangler, a family and community medicine specialist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., told MedPage Today. "Whether it is a genetic predisposition toward risk taking behavior, genetic disposition toward experimentation of substances, or even a genetic disposition toward nicotine addiction itself."
Spangler went on to say that parents shouldn't take the findings as a reason to give up trying to stop their kids from taking up the habit. He urged parents to talk to children about the dangers of smoking, and encourage healthy lifestyle habits to help parents stop, and kids never start, smoking.
Image: Cigarettes and pacifier, via Shutterstock