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Does Smoking Cigarettes Make for Worse Parents?


Most people know that smoking cigarettes has harmful side effects for both the smoker and those he or she lives with. People are also aware that cigarettes are a costly habit. However, a new study from Pfizer shows that parents who smoke are actually worse parents than their non-smoking counterparts, partaking in actions that result in a lower quality of life for their children.

This study examined the lifestyle behaviors of parents who smoke cigarettes, with 6,271smokers surveyed in order to see how they managed to buy cigarettes during tough financial times (Cheng). The researchers found that 20 percent of smoking parents buy cheaper items for their children in order to save the money for cigarettes. Not only that, but they found that 17 percent would cut back on food for their children, and 35 percent would specifically cut back on treats for their children.

Another 20 percent would skip on holiday and birthday presents, and 17 percent would cut back on toys in general to pay for cigarettes (Cheng). About 13 percent would stop taking their children to after-school activities that cost money, and 7 percent refused to let their children go on field trips because it was too costly (Reilly). Nearly 1,000 people had dipped into their life savings, and nearly 275 people had stolen from family and friends to pay for cigarettes. Amazingly, 7 percent of people had applied for a credit card with the sole intent of getting cigarettes, 11 percent had gone without food, and about 100 people had asked for money from strangers (Reilly).

Essentially, this study demonstrates that smoking parents are essentially worse parents because they provide a lower quality of life for their children, in terms of health, social interactions, and basic necessities. However, it is also difficult for individuals to quit smoking cigarettes on their own. Says Dr. Sarah Jarvis, a researcher involved in this study, “Most smokers are fully aware of the financial burden that a smoking habit can have on their lives but the vast majority are not taking advantage of the free help available to them from their healthcare professional” (Le).

She also notes that it takes an average of four tries before most smokers can quit.

It can be hard to recognize smoking cigarettes as an addiction, with all of the consequences that any other addiction can have. Most of these parents are probably not bad people with any ill intent towards their children, but their actions result in a lower quality of life for the kids whom they most likely love. Because of their addictions and their willingness to put the majority of their resources towards maintaining their habit, they become worse parents than they could be if they were to quit.

There are many free smoking hotlines in many states, as well as free support from healthcare providers. There are additional medications that can help people stop smoking, ranging from pills to gum to patches. The fact is that nicotine is addictive, and when people become seriously addicted to cigarettes, they are less likely to live up to their potential as parents or provide both necessities and luxuries for their children.


Works Cited

Cheng, Cheri. “Survey Suggests Smokers are Bad Parents.” 24 July 2013. Counsel Heal. Web. 25 July 2013.

Le, Bryan. “Do Smokers Make Worse Parents.” 23 July 2013. The Fix. Web. 25 July 2013.

Reilly, Rachel. “Does smoking make you a bad parent? Survey finds smokers feed their children less, buy them smaller birthday presents and raid their money box to fund their habit.” 23 July 2013. Daily Mail. Web. 25 July 2013.



Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Addiction, Research · Tags: children, cigarettes, parents, smoking

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