Parental rules and communication: their association with adolescent smoking


Zeena Harakeh, Institute of Family and Child Care Studies, Radboud University of Nijmegen, PO Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, the Netherlands, Tel: 31 24 3612980, Fax: 31 24 3612776, E-mail:


Aims  To examine the association between parental rules and communication (also referred to as antismoking socialization) and adolescents’ smoking.

Design and participants  A cross-sectional study including 428 Dutch two-parent families with at least two adolescent children (aged 13–17 years).

Measurements  Parents’ and adolescents’ reports on an agreement regarding smoking by adolescents, smoking house rules, parental confidence in preventing their child from smoking, frequency and quality of communication about smoking, and parent's reactions to smoking experimentation.

Findings  Compared with fathers and adolescents, mothers reported being more involved in antismoking socialization. There were robust differences in antismoking socialization efforts between smoking and non-smoking parents. Perceived parental influence and frequency and quality of communication about smoking were associated with adolescents’ smoking. The association between antismoking socialization practices and adolescents’ smoking was not moderated by birth order, parents’ smoking or gender of the adolescent.

Conclusions  Encouraging parents, whether or not they themselves smoke, to discuss smoking-related issues with their children in a constructive and respectful manner is worth exploring as an intervention strategy to prevent young people taking up smoking.