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Boys and girls who discuss issues that are important to them with their fathers are far less likely to smoke when they are young.
A big factor in stopping children trying cigarettes was how often their fathers talked with them about "things that mattered". The study by Dr James White, of Cardiff University's School of Medicine, involved 3,500 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 15.
Youngsters were asked to rate how often they spoke to their fathers on issues that were important to them on a scale of from "hardly ever" to "most days". Only children who had never smoked at the time the study began took part. 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.
Dr White said the study also looked at the influence of mums and while they did not seem to be as influential in terms of smoking, Dr White said they were a positive influence in many other aspects of a child's wellbeing.
As well as their smoking, the children were also asked about the frequency of parental communication, arguments with members of the family and the frequency of family meals. The study found the frequency of family arguments and family meals did not have a significant effect.
Recognised risk factors for smoking, such as gender, age, household income, parental monitoring and parental smoking were all taken into account during analysis of the findings.