Parents can take practical steps to keep their children smoke-free. At first, young
people begin smoking to look cool without understanding the addictive nature of tobacco.
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.
If you smoke, quit. Children look to their parents as an example, and children of smokers are more
likely to smoke than children of nonsmokers.
Start talking 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.
Explain to your children how tobacco advertising manipulates people into believing
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 youngsters who spend money on smoking could have
bought CDs, makeup, new clothes, video games, or other things that matter to
Pay attention to the friends with whom your children spend time. 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 youngsters'
activities. And get the children involved in activities that are not connected
to smoking, such as organized sports, hiking, biking or other athletic activities.
Know what you're talking about by becoming well-informed about the dangers of
smoking. When talking to your children about smoking, it's important to communicate
facts. There's no need to exaggerate, 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.
Tell teenagers about the negative effects of smoking that should matter most
to them at their age, such as bad breath, yellow teeth, and reduced athletic abilities. Teens often
don't respond to warnings about the long-term health consequences.