Parents are often clueless when their kids start smoking e-cigarettes, a new study finds.
On the other hand, Mom and Dad usually can tell if their children take up traditional smoking, said researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.
Having strict household rules against any form of tobacco is the best form of prevention, researchers found. And those rules should apply to adults, too.
"Tobacco use by children is troubling, and dentists, like all health care providers, should be concerned about preventing youth tobacco use," study co-author Dr. Benjamin Chaffee, an associate professor in the university's School of Dentistry.
"We know that tobacco-free homes are a key tool to help prevent smoking by kids," he said in a university news release.
The study included parents of more than 23,000 kids aged 12 to 17. Researchers found the parents were less likely to know or suspect that their child used e-cigarettes, non-cigarette tobacco products or smokeless tobacco, compared with traditional cigarettes or other tobacco products.
As traditional smoking declines among American youth, use of e-cigarettes is rising. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year that 1 in 4 high school students vapes.
The new research looked at cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and also cigars, pipes, hookahs and bidis. It also examined use of smokeless tobacco products such as snuff, chewing tobacco, snus and dissolvable tobacco.
Researchers found that parents were more likely to know or suspect a child was using tobacco if the child was older, male, white, lived with a smoker, and if parents were less educated. Mothers were more clued in than fathers.
Moreover, teens and tweens whose parents had the strictest rules against tobacco use were 20% to 26% less likely to start using tobacco, compared with kids in the most permissive homes.
To stop kids from using tobacco, the researchers suggest parents:
The report was published Oct. 5 in the journal Pediatrics.
For more on children and smoking, see the American Lung Association.