The three-year-study of 3,500 11 to 15 year-olds found that children whose fathers regularly talk with them about 'things that matter' are less likely to take up smoking during early adolescence.
The findings were presented today at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference.
Only children who had never smoked at the time the study began took part. As well as their smoking, children were also asked about the frequency of parental communication, arguments with family members and the frequency of family meals - none which had a significant effect on smoking.
After three years, the responses of children who had remained non smokers were compared to those who said they had experimented with smoking at some point.
Recognized risk factors for smoking, such as age, participant sex, household income, parental monitoring and parental smoking, were all taken into account during analysis of the study's findings.
"This study suggests that a greater awareness of parents' and especially fathers' potential impact upon their teenagers' choices about whether to smoke is needed," said lead author James White from Cardiff University. "Fathers should be encouraged and supported to improve the quality and frequency of communication with their children during adolescence.
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