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Do Smokers Make Worse Parents?

A survey finds cash-strapped smokers often cut back on their kids' amenities to save money for cigarettes.

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Secondhand smoke, secondhand clothes.
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By Bryan Le

07/23/13

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Secondhand smoke may not be the only threat to children of smokers. A new study suggests that cash-strapped parents who smoke may neglect their childrens' needs in order to afford the habit. According to a survey of 6,721 smoking parents, in difficult economic times, many will choose to allocate money towards smoking, even when it means denying their kids certain "luxuries" like clothes, gifts and even food. About 20% of smoking parents admit to getting their children less expensive clothing and shoes instead of quitting smoking, 35% reduce the number of treats they buy their kids, and 20% say they cut back on Christmas presents. Most alarmingly, 17% of smoking parents say they even cut back on how much they feed their kids to save money for cigarettes, and 9% admit to stealing from their child's piggy bank to buy smokes. Dr Sarah Jarvis, who was involved with the study, says most smokers recognize the harmful effects of the habit on their health and family, and 70% say they want to quit. “Most smokers are fully aware of the financial burden that a smoking habit can have on their lives but the vast majority are not taking advantage of the free help available to them from their healthcare professional,” she says. It takes an average of four tries before most smokers succeed in quitting.

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