You suspect that your teen is smoking, or perhaps you know for sure that your teen is smoking--you donít like it, but what can you really do about it? You can yell, demand that he or she stops smoking, or threaten harsh punishment. The fact is, since you cannot be with your child 24/7 there is nothing to guarantee that these methods will work.
So what can you do? If you smoke you can stop, children often mirror what they see at home. Give your child some facts and figures about cigarettes and health. According to the American Lung Association "Every day, almost 3,900 children under 18 years of age try their first cigarette, and more than 950 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit." (1)
Curbing or stopping someone else's bad habit can be tricky, you want to use effective ways to get your teen to quit smoking without alienating him/her. When you see or smell signs that your child may be smoking when away from home, let him know that although you respect his right to make his own decisions, you'd like to help him think through this one. Ask if he knows the risks of smoking. If he can give only a few, provide a longer more graphic list.
Some statistics, From 1997 to 2001, smoking killed an estimated 438,000 people in the United States each year. This includes an estimated 259,494 male and 178,404 female deaths annually. Among adults, the three leading specific causes of smoking attributable deaths were from lung cancer (123,836), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (90,582) and ischemic heart disease (86,801).(2)
Some strategies that may help your child quit smoking:
- Play on their vanity. Remind them that smoking leaves a bad smell in their hair and clothing. Cigarettes can also stain their teeth and their fingers.
- Help your teen make a plan to quit smoking, stay involved in the plan. If your child is ready to quit, talk with him about a plan to achieve zero smoking. Help him think it through. And support him through it. If your teen is not willing or feels that he cannot to quit cold turkey, ask if they can at least cut back to half the amount they currently smoke. Or ask if they can try for one 24-hour period.
- Get a professional to talk with your child. Bring your teen to the local American Lung Association or to a hospital cessation program professional. Lots of teens are more willing to listen to an outsider than to their parent.
Some of the new television "Stop smoking" commercials are hard-hitting and a bit frightening, that can be a starting point to end smoking. Remember, if you smoke you may find yourself hard put to get your kids to stop smoking. This is a good time for you to get a handle on your own addiction to cigarettes.
Source: (1)American Lung Association: http://www.lungusa.org (2)State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI) http://slati.lungusa.org