The intergenerational transmission of smoking in adulthood: A 25-year study of maternal and offspring maladaptive attributes

Judith S. Brook, Elizabeth Rubenstone, Chenshu Zhang, Stephen J. Finch, David W. Brook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


While smoking is a major cause of mortality and morbidity, and maternal smoking is a risk factor for smoking among their offspring, the mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of smoking are not well understood. This study examines the pathways from maternal and adolescent child factors, and the parent-child relationship, to smoking among the adult offspring, approximately 25. years later. Data for the present analysis were based on time waves 2 (T2; 1983) and 7 (T7; 2007-2009) of an on-going study of a community sample of mothers and their children. Offspring and mother X ages were 14.1 and 40.0. years, respectively, at T2, and 36.6 and 65.0. years, respectively, at T7. At T2, trained interviewers administered individual structured interviews. Psychosocial questionnaires were self-administered at T7. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to analyze the interrelationships among maternal and offspring attributes (T2 and T7). SEM results indicated a satisfactory model fit (RMSEA. = 0.052; CFI. = 0.91; SRMR. = 0.057), and confirmed hypothesized pathways. One pathway linked maternal maladaptive attributes (T2) to the mother-adolescent child attachment relationship (T2), which was associated with the offspring's maladaptive attributes over time (T2 to T7), which then predicted the adult offspring's smoking (T7). Other pathways highlighted the stability of maternal smoking, the continuity of maladaptive attributes, and less offspring educational attainment as predictors of offspring smoking at T7. Findings suggest the importance of early interventions to treat maternal smoking, maternal and offspring maladaptive attributes, and the mother-child relationship in order to reduce risk factors for the intergenerational transmission of smoking behavior. Interventions which enhance educational success should also prove effective in reducing smoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2361-2368
Number of pages8
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult smoking
  • Educational attainment and smoking
  • Intergenerational smoking
  • Maladaptive attributes
  • Midlife women
  • Mother-child relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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