Parents Quit Smoking (For Awhile) When Kids Have Surgery

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

man smoking

Kicking the habit is hard, even when you're doing it for kids. Credit:Noel Celis, Getty Images

Parents who smoke are more likely to quit if their child goes through surgery, a study shows. They worry about the effect secondhand smoke will have on the child as he or she recovers.

Then they start smoking again.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a child's surgery may inspire parents to quit smoking, but they have no better chance than anyone else of kicking the habit permanently.

According to US News & World Report, researchers studied 1,112 children who lived with at least one person who smoked. When a child or parent had surgery, the magazine reporters, the smoker was likely to quit. But the attempt was more likely to succeed only if it was the parent having surgery.

About one in seven U.S. children who undergo surgery are chronically exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, the magazine reports.

Secondhand smoke can increase the risk of respiratory complications associated with anesthesia. In adults, smoking after surgery has been shown to increase the risks of lung and cardiac complications and infections to the wound.

"Our current findings suggest that having a child undergo surgery can serve as a teachable moment for quit attempts," lead researcher David Warner tells the magazine.

"The scheduling of children for surgery may present us with an opportunity to provide tobacco interventions to parents, who are apparently more motivated to at least try to quit -- but who need assistance to succeed."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.