Men’s Smoking Behavior across the Transition to Fatherhood

Matthias Pollmann-Schult, Magdeburg University

The smoking behavior of mothers is well documented. Ample research shows that women during pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce their tobacco consumption because the exposure of nicotine in the first months of life increases the risk of serious illnesses. Fathers’ smoking behavior, in contrast, is largely under-examined despite research showing that fathers’ smoking has adverse health outcomes in children as well, as increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and other respiratory conditions. Examining fathers smoking is also important, because the smoking behavior of partners is inter-related. Since mothers who have smoking partners are less likely to quit smoking than other mothers, knowledge about fathers’ smoking can facilitate understanding the smoking behavior of mothers.

This study is one of the first to examine changes in men’s tobacco consumption across the transition to fatherhood. For the analysis, I employed data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), a nationally representative longitudinal sample that has been conducted annually since 1984. In the multivariate analysis, I estimated fixed-effects logit regression and linear regressions with cluster-robust standard errors. Smoking behavior is measured by smoking status (smoker vs. non-smoker) and the number of cigarette smoked per day among men who regularly smoke.

My study indicates that the transition to fatherhood has little effect on men’s smoking behavior. Young fathers are not more likely to quit smoking than childless men. However, fathers who continue smoking reduce their cigarette consumption, but this reduction is quite small, and diminishes in subsequent years. These findings suggest that anti-smoking programs should focus more strongly on the health behavior of fathers, who are often neglected by such programs. Because the smoking behavior of partners is inter-related, mothers might benefit as well from health programs addressing fathers’ smoking.

Presented in Session 17: Health Aspects of Birth and Parenthood