It is important to remember that tobacco is a drug, and incredibly dangerous to people of any age. One of the saddest statistics is this: 90% of tobacco users started using tobacco as a child under the age of 18. And it only takes about four cigarettes (on average) to become addicted. It is so important to talk candidly to your children about tobacco and the tobacco industry. Studies have shown that teens with a negative view of the tobacco industry are much less likely to use tobacco than those with a neutral or positive view. While some teens may see tobacco use as a simple experimentation, rebellion or independence-seeking behavior, it often becomes a lifelong addiction. It can result in poor health, disease, decreased quality of life and an early death – not to mention it is a very expensive habit!
BEWARE OF THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY
The tobacco industry spends big money getting product placement in movies. They have stars that kids look up to smoke, trying to convince kids and young adults that it’s cool. The tobacco industry wants your child to start smoking so they have a customer for life – even though their product will have a negative affect on the life of the smoker!
- Develop open communication with your child where you encourage conversation, ask questions, and actively listen without lecturing or getting upset.
- Show you care so he or she knows they are important to you.
- Reinforce the positive by appreciating their current efforts, accomplishments and good choices.
- Respect is a two-way street so celebrate your teen’s individuality and understand their growing need for independence.
- Have family rules about tobacco with clear, realistic expectations and appropriate consequences.
- Set a good example because you are the most important role model in your child’s life.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO PAY ATTENTION.
Middle School and High School children are going through lots of changes. One day, they want to cuddle with you, and the next they’re acting like you’re from another planet. It is important to watch for signs that your child might be experimenting with tobacco.
- Clothing and hair smells like cigarette smoke.
- Increased use of breath mints.
- Increase and heavier use of cologne or perfume.
- Bad breath.
If you are worried a young person may be using, pay attention to your intuition and take action. When you look the other way, or avoid thinking or talking about it, you send the message that it’s ok.. Click here for a list of local and online organizations for more help and resources.