Talk to Your Kids
What can parents do to stop their teens from smoking? It is
important for parents to talk to their kids. Children whose parents do
not talk to them regularly are at greater risk for experimenting with
cigarettes (Kowalski, 13). Make a point of discussing your children’s
lives and feelings. Ask them how their day went and/or if they
experienced or learned anything new. Make sure you know their friends
(and the friends’ parents). This will help you find out whether any of
their friends are smoking, so you can talk about it with your own
Help your child decode advertisements. Parents can begin as
early as the fourth or fifth grade, when children may first become
susceptible to the images in cigarette advertisements. Urge them to
identify seductive images. Tell your child what the advertisers are
intending to do by displaying the advertisements. Explain to them the
warning label that must be put on all cigarette advertisements, and why
the government requires it.
Emphasize the significance of good health. Although kids are
notoriously unconcerned about getting sick, tell them the consequences.
Show them pictures of what tobacco does to the heart and the lungs.
Scare tactics are a great way to show teenagers the damage tobacco
causes. Tell them that teenage smokers have weaker lungs, cough more,
and suffer worse upper-respiratory infections (Munson, 90). Young
athletes do not perform as well if they smoke due to shortness of
breath. Also, the more years a person smokes, the greater is the risk
of lung cancer in middle age(Kowalski, 14).
Help Say No
Help your teenager to say no in pressuring situations. Give them
reasons to tell their friends why smoking is not cool. As best you
can, play the part of an admired friend or acquaintance trying to get
your teenager to try a cigarette. Help them to work out ways to turn
down the offer. By teaching your child to say no at home, they can be
more confident in dealing with real situations.
Set a Good Example
It is important for parents to set a good example for their
children by not smoking. If you are a smoker and are unable or
unwilling to quit, at least explain to your children that you are in
the grip of a fearsome addiction--and hide your cigarettes. Smoke less
in front of your children and make their rooms smoke-free zones.
Remember that passive smoke contains higher concentrations of toxic and
cancer causing-chemicals than smoke inhaled directly (Hall, 33). By
exposing your child to your cigarette smoke, you are punishing them
internally. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that
annually about 3,000 nonsmokers die of lung cancer; other reports
estimate that about 37,000 people die of heart attacks caused by
passive smoking. Passive smoke from parents is 100% avoidable.
Lastly, impose consequences to smoking teenagers. If, in spite
of your efforts, you find your child experimenting with cigarettes, do
not treat it as a minor kids-will-be-kids infraction. Treat it as
what it is: an act that puts your child at very high risk of developing
a life-threatening addiction. Impose whatever sanctions your family
uses for a major misdeed--and do not back down on your punishments.
Keep in mind that you are trying to help them not hurt themselves.
Created by: Tracy Lynn Wise