Children of divorce are more likely to smoke than those who grew up in families whose parents remained married, according to researchers from the University of Toronto.
A study of 19,000 Americans found that men whose parents divorced before they turned 18 had 48 percent higher odds of ever smoking 100 cigarettes than those from intact families. Daughters of divorce had 38 percent higher odds of becoming smokers during their lifetimes.
The 100-cigarette metric was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to classify someone as a smoker.
The researchers acknowledge that they cannot fully explain the link between parental divorce and the development of a smoking habit. One possible explanation is that smoking may serve as a coping mechanism during what is often a very stressful and emotional situation for children.
They added that more studies should be done to examine the impact of other factors that may be associated with smoking, such as lower levels of education, variation in the incomes of parents and mental health problems.
The study is published in this month’s issue of Public Health.