11 Steps in the Right Direction
As parents, we try hard to encourage smart, independent decision-making in our kids. What we forget is how much influence we can actually have. Here are 11 things to know, to do, to understand….
- Talk directly to children about the risks of tobacco use. If friends or relatives have died from tobacco-related illnesses, talk about it.
- Make sure that your discussions include the dangers of smokeless tobacco. High school star athlete Sean Marcee used spit tobacco. He died of oral cancer at 19.
- If someone smokes in a movie or TV show you’re watching together, use the opportunity! Ask “What does smoking make you feel about that character? Why do you think they show smoking in that way?”
- If you use tobacco, quitting sets the best example of all. Need help doing that? Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
But in the meantime …
- don't use tobacco in your children's presence
- don't offer it to them
- don't leave it where they can easily get it.
- Think that age 5 or 6 is too early to start the conversation? It isn’t. Many kids start using tobacco by age 11; many are addicted by age 14. And kids who use tobacco are more likely to use alcohol and other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.
- Know whether your kids' friends use tobacco. Talk about ways to refuse it—and help them understand that they don’t need to answer to anyone. Play the part of the persistent smoker-friend, guiding them with answers like these…
- “I said no. So stop asking.”
- “Smoking just isn’t who I am. And I wish you didn’t do it, either.”
- “I just don’t like it, that’s all.”
- “I just don’t like the smell. Or yellow teeth.”
- “Smoking messes up my game/studying/concentration.”
- “Let’s do _______ instead.”
- “You know, we could have bought ___________ with the money you just spent on that pack.”
- “My parents would kill me.”
- Discuss with kids the false glamorization of tobacco on billboards and in other media, such as movies, TV, and magazines.
- If you threaten punishment for smoking, be sure to follow up on it.
- Vote with your pocketbook. Support businesses that don't sell tobacco to kids. Frequent restaurants and other places that are tobacco-free.
- Be sure that your school and all school events (parties, sporting events, etc.) are tobacco-free.
- Partner with local tobacco prevention programs. Call your local health department or your cancer, heart, or lung association to learn how to get involved.
Download These Facts