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Is a home smoking ban enough to stop teen smoking?

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We all know the power of role models and I have written about the effect of role modes on behaviour many times before: from the moving ‘Children See, Children Do‘ campaign to talking about the effectiveness of the pictures of death and destruction that now adorn our fag packets.

All these ideas are supported by Bandura and his Social Learning Theory which proposes that children especially learn their behaviours through the observation and imitation of role models.  Bandura demonstrated this in his 1961 research where he exposed children to aggressive role models who acted violently (both physical and verbal violence) towards an inflatable bobo-doll.

He found that children who were passive witnesses to this violent act were more likely to imitate this behaviour when given the chance.  There are many criticisms of this study but if the conclusions are right then there are implications for us all as role models.

Recent research (Albers, 2008) has been investigating the effect of parental smoking behaviour in homes on the likelihood of their children starting up the habit.  They found that parents who enforce no-smoking rules at home are less likely to have teens who experiment with cigarettes. This basic intervention implementing a household smoking ban has the potential to promote anti-smoking norms and to prevent adolescent smoking.

Albers and colleagues interviewed 2,217 Massachusetts adolescents ages 12 to 17, and followed them for four years. They discovered that teens living in households that did not ban smoking were more likely to report smoking as socially acceptable, compared to teens whose parents banned smoking.

Teens whose parents allowed smoking at home also tended to believe that a higher percentage of adults in their town smoked, compared to teens with household bans. [From Medical News Toady]

This suggests then that the behaviours in homes can have a massive effect on behaviours. As these bans send a strong message to teens that it’s not okay to smoke, and in the face of so many other external factors that may influence teens to smoke peers, advertising a home smoking policy is one thing that parents can control to some extent.

Parents should always set an example for their children to follow, especially when it concerns drug or alcohol use. If their child gets into substance abuse because of influences outside the home, they are also expected to get them the necessary addiction treatments and give them their unwavering support as well.

It would be naive to assume that parents smoking in the home is the only factor that influences smoking behaviour is children but it is one more thing that parents can be aware of and another piece of evidence supporting Bandura’s Social Learning Theroy.

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4 Responses to “Is a home smoking ban enough to stop teen smoking?”

  1. Steve Harold July 6, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    In my experience some teens will smoke irrespective of whether smoking is banned in the home or not. Although in our formative years we are naturally influenced by parents and other adults, when it comes to being a teenager, we start to find out who we are as separate decision-making entities from our parents. To differentiate ourselves from parents, we are more likely to do something that enables us to rebel against the household rules. This could include smoking, drug taking and minor criminal behaviour.

  2. Mark August 22, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    I think the best thing that’s happened to curb smoking in recent years has been this huge attack on the perceptive ‘coolness’ of smoking; smoking is not cool any more, and if there’s anything that will stop people from smoking, its this attitude..no teenager wants to be be uncool

  3. John S September 1, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    Children should always be educated by the parent in an honest and real way, not some dictatorial statement here and there. Very few parents would deny they love their chilkdren, yet do all this silly stuff around them that ends up hurting them. I had a friend who smoked around his child, and I found it to be rather disturbing. I myself have switched to an e-cig, and if I was still in contact with the guy Id tell him to do the same. The one brand that I like has a lot of info about e-cigs in general on their website – thevapormaster.com

  4. London Counselling September 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    To forbid someone on doing something is never a guarantee that it will stop. To ban smoking isn’t even enough as to my thinking because in the first place it’s not done by the same people who regulates it. As the saying goes, if there’s a will there’s a way and that will work on both the smoker and the people who wants it to be stopped.

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