It is a scary fact that more than ninety percent of adult smokers begin smoking as teenagers. Even though progress has been made in keeping kids from using tobacco, approximately twenty percent of high school students in the United States are smokers. For a long time, the tobacco industry has targeted their marketing towards youth and research has shown that these marketing efforts have led to experimentation with smoking by underage kids. Providing children with tobacco awareness and information on prevention is important in keeping kids tobacco-free. There are a number of anti-smoking campaigns and other resources available to help parents and educators teach children about the dangers of tobacco use and addiction.
Kids may be tempted to try smoking for a number of reasons. Looking cool and fitting in with friends, acting older, feeling independent, appearing tough, and losing weight are all reasons that have been given for trying tobacco. When parents have open communication with their kids, they can combat some of these temptations and keep kids from becoming addicted to smoking.
Smoking Prevention and Tobacco-Free Tips For Parents and Educators
- When discussing smoking with children, it is important to make them feel comfortable and approach the discussion in a way that doesn’t make them fear judgment or punishment.
- Encouraging children to get involved in activities such as sports, that prohibit smoking, can be a deterrent.
- Talk with children early and often about the dangers of using tobacco. Even very young children can understand simple concepts about smoking being bad.
- Talking to children about how they can respond to peer pressure will help them to say no to smoking. Offer your children some alternative options in addition to simply saying no, such as “it will make my clothes smell bad,” and “it will make my breath smell bad.”
- Explain the other aspects of cigarettes. Talk to children about the costs of smoking, how it might affect their friendships, the sports they play, and more.
- Establishing firm rules in the household regarding smoking will make kids aware of exactly what is expected of them. Make sure they understand why smoking is not allowed in the home.
- Kids learn by example and model the behaviors of the role models in their lives. When parents or other adults close to kids are smokers, it can increase the chances of the child being tempted to try tobacco.
- Teach kids that it is okay to walk away from any friends who cannot respect their wishes not to smoke.
Signs To Watch For
Children are naturally curious and even with proper education and awareness, parents need to stay vigilant. Signs of possible tobacco use include throat irritation, bad breath, stained teeth, coughing, shortness of breath, and more. If a parent discovers that their child is using tobacco, it is hard not to get angry. However, anger is not productive. Parents that focus on communicating with their child, regarding the reasons they have started smoking, are more likely to have success in helping their child stop their harmful behavior.
Parents have several options if they need help in educating their children on the dangers of tobacco and smoking. There are various campaigns such as Tobacco-Free Kids that serve to educate children and parents on anti-smoking initiatives, and more. Keeping the lines of communication open with children, listening, and being honest will help prevent smoking and keep kids tobacco-free. Parents can also contact children’s schools to inquire about any anti-smoking and anti-drug education that the school may offer. As a result, they can familiarize themselves with the curriculum.