The Center for Disease Control states that around 23% of teens smoke cigarettes. Cigarettes pose not only a health risk but are highly addictive. Smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Like weed or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly become used to the nicotine in cigarettes that a person needs to have it to feel normal.
Kids start smoking for a variety of different reasons. Some think it looks cool; others start because a member of their family or friend smoke, peer pressure, to relieve stress, etc. Statistics show that about 9 out of 10 tobacco users’ start before they are 18 year old. Most adults start smoking in their teens. Because a child’s body is still growing, teens and youth are vulnerable to its deadly effects. Smoking by children and adolescents deteriorates lung function during late adolescence and early adulthood and is related to impaired lung growth, chronic coughing, and wheezing. Smoking is known to be damaging to one’s health and can cause various cancers in the body.
Smoking at any age has negative effects, including for teenagers and young adults. Teens are often exposed to images of celebrities smoking, which can make it seem cool, even though there are many serious downsides to smoking. In some instances, the media tries to make smoking look acceptable, which helps tobacco companies make sales. There are also factors like general stress, stress related to school, relationships, family troubles, etc., that may lead to smoking. Many are under the mistaken impression that cigarettes eliminate stress, which is not true and the relief experienced is a momentary. When the false feeling of stress relief is over, it creates more stress and a greater feeling of the continued need to smoke.
Tobacco can affect youth activities and athletic performance. Tobacco narrows blood vessels and puts strain on the heart; it also leads to lack of oxygen and shortness of breath. Smokers run slower and can’t run as far as nonsmokers.
The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children and sudden infant death syndrome. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases and children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop ear infections, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma. Children who are older and whose parents smoke get sick more often and develop a weak immunity. Here are some ways by which you can stop your child from smoking.
- Let them know that you’d like them to quit – Approximately 75% of all smokers claim they would like to quit, so, chances are, your child has already considered quitting. The first step in inspiring someone to quit is simply, calmly talking to them about quitting. Ask them if they want or wanted to quit, tell them that you are concerned about them and explain why you would like them to quit. It may be possible that the smoker already knows about how bad cigarettes can be. If not, you can help educate him by providing appropriate information, books and materials, and pointing out useful websites to make them understand the dangers of smoking.
- Be understanding towards their struggle to quit smoking – Many smokers don’t want to quit because they are afraid of withdrawal, or that quitting will make them gain weight. Perhaps they don’t want their irritability to be a burden on people around them. Maybe it is because they have tried and failed in the past, and they don’t believe they can do it. Ask them what is keeping them from quitting. Perhaps you can even address some of those fears, but what is most important is that you listen to them and try to understand them.
- Reassure them that they have your support no matter what – Quitting is a very stressful experience, and the more stressed-out a smoker is, the harder it will be for him to quit. Your kids need to understand that you care about them regardless of whether they decide to quit or not. You must be ready to accept whatever choice they are going to make. Always be positive, this is the only way in which you could motivate them to quit.
- If they refuse to quit, give them space – Deciding to quit smoking is not an easy choice to make for an addict. If they decide against it, accept their choice. It is their life and their decision to make. Constantly pressuring them to quit and ultimatums or forcing a quit date on them will only help drive them away. Quitting requires will power that must come from within, so there is no point in trying to control them to do it. Try to remember why quitting is difficult for them. Perhaps this wasn’t the right time to do it. Give them a couple of weeks or even months before you approach the subject again, but don’t give up on trying helping them.
- If they decide to quit, help them – If they do decide to quit, congratulate them on taking the first and perhaps most important step toward breaking their addiction. If you have never smoked, it may be hard for you to understand what they are going through. Remember that quitting smoking is a big deal, and show them that you are proud of them.
Educate them on the different methods available for quitting, and help them choose one that will work best for them. Quitting is possible and it can be done. Remember to be supportive and understanding. They may have picked up bad habits but it does not mean they cannot leave them. You have to earn their trust enough for them to ask you for help if they are addicted to nicotine. Nothing is impossible, what is important is your child’s health. If you teach them the negative impacts of smoking from the start and not smoke in front of them or support it, there’s a chance your child won’t grow up to be a smoker.