Children with parents who smoke are more likely to try cigarettes and become smokers themselves, studies suggest.
The more years a child is exposed to parental smoking, the greater the risk the child will experiment with smoking or even pick up the unhealthy habit.
Parents who smoke should quit smoking as early as possible in their children’s lives to reduce the chances that their children will take up smoking when they’re older.
Kids might be attracted to smoking for various reasons— to look and feel cool, act older, seem tough, or feel independent.
As a parent, it’s your duty to create and maintain a good foundation of communication with your kids early on to make it easier to work through tricky issues like tobacco use.
Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence produces significant health problems among young people, including an increase in the number and severity of respiratory illnesses, decreased physical fitness and potential effects on the rate of lung growth and maximum lung function, according to the American Lung Association.
If current tobacco use patterns persist, an estimated 6.4 million current child smokers will eventually die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.
Prevention Tips For Parents
Here are some guidelines to help prevent your kids from using tobacco:
Discuss it in a way that doesn’t make kids fear punishment or judgment.
It’s important to keep talking to kids about the dangers of tobacco use over the years.
Ask what kids find appealing — or unappealing — about smoking. Listen patiently.
Encourage children and teens to get involved in activities that prohibit smoking, such as sports.
Show that you value your kids’ opinions and ideas.
Discuss ways to respond to peer pressure to smoke. Your child may feel confident simply saying “no.” But also offer alternative responses such as “It will make my clothes and breath smell bad” or “I hate the way it makes me look.”
Emphasize what kids do right rather than wrong. Self-confidence is a child’s best protection against peer pressure.
Encourage kids to walk away from friends who don’t respect their reasons for not smoking.
Explain how much smoking governs the daily life of kids who start doing it. How do they afford the cigarettes? How do they have money to pay for other things they want? How does it affect their friendships?
Establish firm rules that exclude smoking and chewing tobacco from your house and explain why: Smokers smell bad, look bad, and feel bad, and it’s bad for everyone’s health.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Click here to learn more about how parents can protect their children from becoming addicted smokers.
Find Contacts in Your Area
The Southwest PA Wellness Partners Coalition is a multi-county effort created to address the diverse issue of tobacco use in the southwestern health district of Pennsylvania.