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Talking to Kids About Smoking Or Quitting Smoking

help teens quit smoking nowAfter decades of decline, the U.S. teen-smoking rate has stayed level over the last few years, even increasing in some states. This is probably due to several factors, including the down economy, the leveling off of cigarette prices, and the simple fact that, as long as cigarettes are around, some rebellious teens will always be drawn to them.

If you’re the parent of a teen, you know that kids take their cues from their peers and the media much more than from their parents, so you may wonder if there’s anything you could possibly do to deter your child from smoking. When you start talking about reasons to quit smoking, how to stop smoking, and the dangers of nicotine addiction, your teen is liable to tune out.

Still, while talking to kids about smoking presents real challenges, and there’s no way to guarantee that your child will never try cigarettes, there are things you can do to at least lower the risk.

talk to kids about dangers of smokingStart early: Once kids start developing minds of their own, there’s no telling what they will be drawn to. But if you instill anti-smoking views at an early age, you’ll get your child off on the right foot.

So take your opportunities when they arise. When you and your young child see someone smoking, whether in person or on television, comment on the negative health effects of cigarettes, and talk about why that person should quit smoking now and why he or she should seek help to quit smoking. Be ready to answer your child’s questions, and talk about smart ways to say “no.”

Finding the right balance of tone can be difficult. It’s important to convey the seriousness of smoking without coming across as lecturing.

Know the facts: If you don’t know the real health effects of smoking, it’ll be hard to make a convincing case to your child. Educate yourself on how smoking affects athletic and school performance, and cultivate knowledge on the nature of nicotine addiction and reasons to stop smoking. Also understand why nicotine withdrawal is so difficult to handle.

Set clear rules and punishments: Establish a no-tolerance rule, and let your child know that if he or she gets caught smoking, there will be real consequences. And should a smoking incident arise, stick to your guns. Any sign of easing up on your rules will convey the message that smoking is not as serious as you say it is.

Practice “no”: Teach your child smart ways to say “no,” and practice a few potential scenarios. Be open about the realities of peer pressure, and emphasize that there are better ways to be cool than to blindly follow what other kids do.

Don’t panic: If your teenager does get caught smoking, it’s not the end of the world. It may be that he or she had a brief lapse in judgment and gave into peer pressure just once. Make sure though that your teen knows the answer to the question “how addictive is nicotine”.

In the worst-case scenario, it could be that your teen has a nicotine habit. In this case, be thankful that you found out, and take this opportunity to talk to him or her about the reasons to quit smoking now. Discuss how to quit smoking, and if you’ve never been addicted to nicotine yourself, seek stop-smoking advice from a doctor, therapist, or trusted friend.

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