It can start with simple curiosity or peer pressure, but teen smoking can become a lifelong habit that will eventually be hard to quit. As a parent, helping teens resist taking that first puff will help their children live a healthier life ahead. Sometimes, teen smoking can be a form of rebellion, or a way to fit in with the crowd. Some teenagers light up in an attempt to lose weight or feel better. Other teens tend to smoke so that they can be “cool” or feel independent. For a concerned parent, asking the teen about his or her thoughts on smoking can start them on a conversation about quitting or preventing the start of such a habit. It is also good to have a friendly discussion with teenagers about the power of choice, and how their choices could eventually make or break them in the future.
Even if parents feel that their children are not listening, say it to them anyway. Simply tell them that smoking is not allowed, and that your disapproval would have more impact than they or even you think. According to one study, teens who think that their parents disapprove of smoking were less than half as likely to smoke as those who thought their parents wouldn’t care. To avoid teen smoking, set a good example for teens. Do not smoke inside the house, in the car, or right in front of your teen. Do not forget to keep the cigarettes from curious hands. Try to quit. If not, explain to them that one’s smoking habits can make one feel unhappy, and that it is hard for them to quit. We all know that smoking is not glamorous, and that it can bring unhealthy and unattractive results such as bad breath, smelly hair, and yellow teeth. Remind the teens that this is a dirty and smelly habit, and can also leave one with a chronic cough and less energy for sports and other active play.
Another factor would be the cost. Smoking is expensive, so help teens calculate their weekly, monthly, or yearly cost of one-pack-a-day smoking habit. A trick in getting the teens to buy less cigarettes is to consider what other things they can buy instead of cigarettes. Tell your teenage son or daughter to consider buying useful gadgets, clothes, and other teen essentials instead of cigarettes.
It is also important to understand that teens are very much exposed to peer pressure. Friends who smoke can be convincing. As a parent, you can give your teens the tools that they need to refuse smoking. One such tool that should be practiced is “Saying No in a Nice Manner.”
In today’s society, teens believe that they can quit smoking anytime they want. But unfortunately, teens become just as addicted to nicotine as adults, often quickly and at relatively low doses of nicotine. And once hooked, it will be tougher to quit. Due to lack of experience, teens also tend to believe that bad things only happen to other people. But the long term consequences of teen smoking such as cancer, stroke, and heart attacks, may be all too real for them when they grow a bit older.