Children of divorced parents are more likely to start smoking than those with married parents, according to a study from the University of Toronto.
Men whose parents divorced before they turned 18 are 48 per cent more likely to smoke 100 cigarettes or more in their lifetime, compared to men whose families remained intact, the findings suggest.
The research notes a similar trend for women, as it reports that those from broken families have a 39 per cent higher chance of becoming a smoker.
Lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson said she thought the link between parental divorce and smoking might be caused by factors such as low levels of education or adult income, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety or childhood traumas among children of divorce.
Fuller-Thomson said “Each of these characteristics has been shown in other studies to be linked with smoking initiation. However, even when we took all these factors into account, a strong and significant association between parental divorce and smoking remained.”
The research team could not determine why parental divorce makes people more likely to smoke, but co-author Candace Lue-Crisostomo speculated that:
“…children upset by their parents’ divorce may use smoking as a coping mechanism to regulate emotions and stress. Some research suggests this calming effect may be particularly attractive to those who have suffered early adversities.”
The study which analysed 19,000 Americans was published in the journal Public Health.