In the MRC/Derbyshire Smoking Study, a cohort of about 6000 adolescents was surveyed annually about their smoking behaviour, attitudes, and other issues from when they entered secondary school at 11-12 until 15-16 years and then again at 18-19 years. Their parents answered a similar questionnaire when their children were aged 11-12 and 15-16 years. In this paper we report the findings of an investigation focussed on the relation between parents' and childrens' smoking behaviour and attitudes at different stages of adolescence. It reveals substantial agreement between children's and parents' reports of parents' smoking behaviour and attitudes, that children from one-parent families are more likely than their peers to smoke, and that boys are more likely to smoke if their fathers smoke and girls if their mothers smoke. In addition, maternal attitudes were independently related to the boys' smoking behaviour. The implications of these findings for health education are discussed.
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