Smoking Parents Cause Poverty in Kids, Study Finds

By Mitch de Leon, Parent Herald May 29, 06:00 am

Apart from the detrimental effects of smoking to one's health, a recent study reveals that this habit could also plunge thousands of children into poverty annually, according to Youth Health Magazine. Smoking places an additional financial burden to low-income families as sustaining the nasty habit becomes a contender in determining how much should be allocated for households necessities. The study's experts reveal that it is possible for parents who are smokers to sacrifice the basic needs of the family, such as food, to fund their smoking.

"Smoking reduces the income available for families to feed, clothe and otherwise care for their children living in low-income households. This study demonstrates that if our government, and our health services, prioritized treating smoking dependence, it could have a major effect on child poverty as well as health," explains Dr. Tessa Langley from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, as reported by Eureka Alert.

Langley goes on to say, "The poverty threshold income level for a two parent household with two children is £392. If both parents are smokers, these households will be spending an average of £50 on tobacco per week, which is a big drain on an already tight budget."

The study, titled 'Parental smoking and child poverty in the UK: an analysis of national survey data,' is published in the recent edition of BMC Public Health. According to the researchers, cigarette smoking "is strongly associated with socioeconomic deprivation" due to the expensiveness of the said habit. Hence, the study aims "to provide an illustrative first estimate of the extent to which parental smoking exacerbates child poverty in the UK."

For their method to arrive at the published conclusion, the researchers combined the information gathered from the 2012 Households Below Average Income report and the 2012 Opinions and Lifestyle Survey in an effort to determine, or at least estimate, the number of kids categorized under poor households with smoker parents. Then, the expenses allocated to fund the tobacco consumption by the parents are subtracted from the total income of the entire household.

The results reveal that "1.1 million children - almost half of all children in poverty - were estimated to be living in poverty with at least one parent who smokes." The study continues, "A further 400,000 would be classed as being in poverty if parental tobacco expenditure were subtracted from household income."

In addition to the negative economic effects of having smoker parents, children falling under this category are also prone to various health risks including "sudden infant death, respiratory infections, asthma and middle ear disease." Moreover, children exposed to smoking in the household have greater tendencies to grow up as smokers themselves.

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