The Odds of Smoking If Your Parents Smoke

People are twice as likely to start smoking if their parents smoke.

Last year, a European study based on the British Household Panel Survey: 1994-2002 and published in the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics revealed that the likelihood of a son starting to smoke when both his parents do is 24 per cent. However, when neither parent smokes, that likelihood drops to 12 per cent. The statistics for daughters are almost identical, with the probability decreasing by only 1 per cent if both parents smoke and remaining exactly the same if neither parents smoke. In single-parent households, a son’s likelihood of smoking if the mother smokes is 32 per cent, and it’s 28 per cent for a daughter.

Regardless of whether your parents smoke, if you start smoking, the Center for Disease Control reports that you will increase your risk factors for heart disease and stroke by two to four times, chronic obstructive lung disease by 12 to 13 times, and cancer by 23 times if you’re a man and 13 times if you’re a woman. Plus, your lifespan could decrease to 64, which is 17 years below the Canadian national average.

Insurance companies will penalize you heavily if you smoke. You can expect to pay a much higher premium than a non-smoker. On term policies, the premiums can more than double, yet on permanent plans, the difference in rates is less pronounced. 

However, most companies do allow occasional cigar users to still qualify for non-smoking rates. Insurers generally allow one large cigar per month per year. Our article, “Cigar Smokers and Life Insurance,” lists the details on how nine different insurance companies in Canada treat cigar use, and it evaluates the cigar smoking applicant’s ability to obtain non-smoker rates.

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