If You Get A Divorce You’ll Probably Turn Your Child Into A Smoker

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shutterstock_71078395A new study confirms that children of divorced parents are more likely to smoke. I love all of the studies that show how much divorce ruins kids. I’m kidding. I really don’t. I know that divorce is traumatic – but coming from a household with divorced parents that stayed together way too long – I can’t help but think in many cases it’s the best choice for the child.

A study out of the University of Toronto says that both sons and daughters of divorced parents are “significantly more likely to initiate smoking in comparison to their peers from intact families.” I come from a divorced family and I smoked for a time. Hmm.

This University of Toronto study, published online this month in the journal Public Health, shows that men who experienced parental divorce before they turned 18 had 48-per-cent higher odds of ever smoking 100 or more cigarettes than men whose parents did not divorce. Women from divorced families were also at risk, with 39-per-cent higher odds of smoking in comparison to women from intact families.

The “100 cigarettes” thing is throwing me off a little. Are you a smoker if you’ve smoked 100 cigarettes in your lifetime? As a former smoker, I would say “no.” A non-smoker would probably say “yes.” I think we’ve all had friends who pick on us for smoking and then just randomly bum cigarettes at the weirdest times. A hundred times is kind of a lot though. Okay – maybe the 100 cigarettes litmus test makes sense.

There are so many other factors involved in why someone would initiate smoking – it seems  a little unbelievable to say that not coming from an “intact” family is a major cause. But apparently it is:

“We had anticipated that the association between parental divorce and smoking would have been explained by one or more of three plausible factors, such as lower levels of education or adult income among the children of divorce; adult mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety among the children of divorce, or other co-occurring early childhood traumas, such as parental addictions or childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

“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.”

Divorce is traumatic. I just have to believe that in many cases it is better for children than two parents that can’t get along staying together. From ensuring that your child won’t go to church, to ensuring that they will ruin their lungs – there is no shortage of studies that make a divorced parent feel even worse. Lucky for me – I enjoy the company of smoking heathens.

(photo: Jessmine/


  1. once upon a time

    March 31, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Sigh. I want to say something like, “You know they’re not doing the study just to shame parents,” but it’s been said so many times that we’re just flogging a dead horse now.

    And let me be the first to present some anecdata – I started smoking when I was fourteen because of my parents bad marriage and subsequent divorce. I’m not blaming or shaming them – they were great parents and ultimately it was my decision to choose that particular outlet for my anger/frustration/all round bad feelings – but yeah. That was the reason. It was a combination of feeling completely stressed out over their fighting (pre and post divorce – you think once they’re living apart the fighting will stop but nope, they just put you in the middle of it) and having less parental supervision. If they’d had a Brady Bunch marriage, things would have been completely different.

  2. CortCab

    April 1, 2013 at 3:59 am

    I completely agree that divorce is sometimes what’s best for the children/family even though most of my friends from “traditional” families think I’m crazy when I say so. My parents divorced when I was 13, and it allowed everyone in my family to be so much happier. And we have better relationships with each other. Also, I’m not a smoker, not that it matters.
    I find these “studies” so ridiculous. I look forward to an upcoming article entitled “No Matter What You Do, You’re Going to Screw Your Kids Up”.

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