The kids are alright: halting the intergenerational reproduction of smoking means helping older adults to quit
16:05 - 16:20
Public Health and Policy
There have always been moral panics about young people’s substance use but ultimately most of us turn into our parents, reproducing socio-economic disparities in smoking. This means that middle-class young people may resist their parents’ values temporarily by experimenting with cigarettes (or JUULING?), but most later revert to type. For working-class young people from smoking families and communities however, smoking can be a marker of belonging – a fact that the tobacco industry has long understood – and quitting can be experienced as a betrayal. As public health practitioners and researchers, we need to recognise that the influence of family and community on young people is much stronger than our own. The real public health gains will happen when we stop making young people our primary focus and instead work harder with older generations and whole communities to change smoking norms for their children and grandchildren.
- Dr Frances Thirlway Research Fellow - University of York
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