Smoking cigarettes does considerable harm to your health, yet people still smoke. It continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in America, with about 44% of Americans age 25 – 65 admitting they smoke. The most important way to prevent smoking is through education, specifically with the most vulnerable groups of children and teenagers. If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking.
About 600,000 middle school students and about 3 million high school students still smoke cigarettes. While there has been a steady decline of cigarette smoking over the past few years, there has been a plateau in the decrease of smoking among youth since 2003. One out of five high school males smoke cigars and the numbers are continuing to increase.
Preventative measures like school programs are in place, but effort should still be made on the part of the parent to talk to their kids about the dangers of smoking. Have a conversation with your kids about the dangers of nicotine, the health risks, and why it’s a terrible habit. Creating an environment that’s okay to ask questions will help your kids understand the dangers of smoking. Know the facts, such as:
Prep yourself with some questions they might ask. Curious questions like, “Did you ever have a cigarette?” will most likely come up. If you were a smoker, they might be more inclined to try smoking as you did. If you’re still a smoker, you should know the harmful effects of second hand smoke for your children and how vital it is to stop smoking.
Questions like, “Why do people start smoking?” or “I saw (my favorite actor/actress/singer) smoking – why can they smoke?” are important to also prepare for ahead of time.
Nicotine is a key factor as to why people continue to return to cigarettes, but its important that kids be aware of how the media and their peers can influence them. Try using this Smoking & Tobacco Use Booklet or other tools to discuss the Surgeon General report in colloquial language. Discover how you can work with your kids to discuss the harmful effects of smoking.
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