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Talk to kids about smoking

Nearly a quarter of high school students in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. Another eight percent use smokeless tobacco. Smoking has many health risks for everyone. However, the younger you are when you start smoking, the more problems it can cause. For example: 

  • People who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting.
  • About 30 percent of youth smokers will continue smoking and die early from a smoking-related disease.
  • Teen smokers are more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • They are also more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety disorders and depression.

The American Lung Association lists these guidelines to help parents talk to their kids about not smoking:

  • Clearly and consistently tell your children that you do not want them to smoke. Start the conversation around age five or six and continue into high school.
  • Explain that smoking will endanger their health and cause unpleasant side effects such as bad breath.
  • If you smoke, quit. Do not allow your children to be around smokers and do not allow anyone to smoke inside your home.
  • Teach your child how to say no when someone offers a cigarette.
  • If you find out that your child is smoking, ask questions to find out why he or she started. Avoid threats and ultimatums.
  • Support your child in quitting smoking, and talk to your child about the ways that cigarettes are addictive.

Parents and other adults who work with children can help by warning them of the risks of smoking. They can also set a good example by not smoking themselves.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Written by: Lisa Callaham
Posted: Jan 30, 2013 by Lisa Callaham

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