Guidelines for Raising Smoke-Free Kids
Parents can take practical steps to
keep their children smoke-free. At first, young people start smoking to look cool. They
don't understand that tobacco is addictive. E-cigarettes often contain nicotine and are
also considered a tobacco product. But a person who starts smoking when young is likely to
continue the habit into adulthood. And quitting smoking later in life is a hard task.
What you can do
Here are specific steps you can take to keep your children from smoking:
If you smoke, quit. Children look to their parents as an example. Children
of smokers are more likely to smoke than children of nonsmokers.
Start talking about smoking when your kids are young. Talk about the
dangers of smoking when your children are ages 5 or 6. If you wait until they're
11 or 12, when they're likely to be tempted to try cigarettes, their health
attitudes are already pretty well set.
Talk with your kids about advertising. Explain to your children how
tobacco advertising manipulates people. It tries to make them believe that smoking
is cool, socially acceptable, and will improve their image. When looking at a
billboard, ask your children, "Do you really believe the girl is going to want to
kiss the guy after he takes that cigarette out of his mouth?"
Remind them of the cost of smoking. Point out to your children that teens
who spend money on smoking could have bought CDs, makeup, new clothes, video
games, or other things that matter to them.
Pay attention to your children's friends. The chances they'll smoke are
greater if they have close friends who smoke. If your children's friends smoke,
don't wait until your children start smoking to say something. Bring up the
subject first and help them deal with peer pressure.
Get to know the parents of your children's friends. Are they smokers? Do
they condone smoking? Are they concerned with raising nonsmoking children? Work
with other parents to keep informed about your kids’ activities. And get kids
involved in activities that are not linked to smoking. These include organized
sports, hiking, biking, or other athletic activities.
Know what you're talking about. Become well-informed about the dangers of
smoking. When talking with your children about smoking, it's important to have the
facts. There's no need to exaggerate or to say smoking is worse than it is. The
truth is bad enough.
Arm your children with feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. What
does self-confidence have to do with not smoking? Everything. Children who feel
belittled at home, or who are overly controlled, will seek to escape one way or
another. They will often take up smoking to rebel against authority figures.
Talk with teens about what matters to them. Tell teens about the negative
effects of smoking that may matter most at their age. These include bad breath,
yellow teeth, and reduced athletic abilities. Teens often don't respond to
warnings about the long-term health consequences.
Tell teens about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. These include
serious lung diseases and harmful effects to their developing brains. Other names
for e-cigarettes include e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, and tank systems.