First, educate yourself
The American Heart Association has some great materials to learn about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke.
Did you know that lead, formaldehyde, and arsenic are just some of the chemicals found in tobacco products and second-hand smoke? Says the American Heart Association —
Using ANY tobacco product damages nearly EVERY organ in your body and can cause heart disease and cancer.
Kick Butts Day has some wonderfully teenager-centric materials on its site. Did you know that —
- The vast majority of smokers start as children. In the U.S., 90 percent of all smokers start while in their teens or earlier.
- Every day, another 700 kids become regular smokers. One-third of them will die prematurely from a smoking-caused disease.
- Tobacco use costs us $132.5 billion each year in medical bills.
- It’s not just cigarettes that are bad for your health. Other forms of tobacco, including cigars and spit or smokeless tobacco, are also harmful and addictive.
Teach Your Children How to Say No
If you teach your children why tobacco is bad for them, and you lead by example (meaning, you as a parent are not smoking), then you are well on your way to having your child say no to smoking.
The American Lung Association says that children should be educated on the risks of tobacco products and smoking around 5 or 6 years old — that’s about the age of kindergarten or 1st grade. Then, regularly talk about not smoking, its dangers, and related health issues through the teenager years.
It’s best to be very specific about teaching you child how to handle situations. The Amercian Heart Association gives several ideas to help you children avoid peer pressure, keep friends, and say no to smoking.
When a child is asked if he or she wants to smoke, the child can say —
- “No” (every time)
- “No” (and then offer a diversion, like “but let’s go play basketball”)
- “No” (and walk away)
You can also teach your child to be aware of when kids are using tobacco and avoid them. This can also be an opportunity to talk about how to choose good friends — easier to talk about this when children are younger.
What to do if you, the parent, smokes?
It’s hard to tell your child to say no to smoking when you, the parent, has a smoking addiction. Your example matters. So, while it is hard to quit, it is one of the best things you could do for your child.
The Allen Carr method to stop smoking is one of the more effective tools to help you quit. It helps you get at the root of why you smoke, instead of just the addiction.