Preventing tobacco use
You can help prevent your tween or teen from using tobacco with these tips:
- Set a good example by not using tobacco products. Try to quit if you do.
- Understand your teen’s personality and why they may want to try tobacco. Are they looking to fit in? Going through a rebellious stage?
- Do not allow tobacco use. Set rules, make them known and enforce consequences.
- Remind your tween/teen about the gross effects of tobacco use: smelly clothes, yellow teeth, bad breath and wrinkles. Kids are self-conscious. Use that to your advantage.
- Calculate the cost of a tobacco habit with your child. What is the weekly, monthly or yearly cost of use? What would your tween or teen rather spend their money on?
- Teach your teen how to say no and resist peer pressure. Have those tough conversations.
- Take addiction seriously. Explain how easy it is for an occasional habit to become an addiction. Stress how difficult it is to quit.
- Discuss long-term effects, like cancer, heart disease and lung disease. Use examples of people your teen knows to help make your point.
- Don’t stop at cigarettes. Tobacco is available in many forms - chew, snuff or e-cigs (vaping) can be just as addictive and harmful.
- Get involved in smoke-free campaigns in your community.
Signs of tobacco use:
- Your child’s clothing, backpack or car (or your garage) smell like smoke.
- You find lighters or matches laying around or in the pockets of their clothing.
- There is a round wear spot on the back pocket of your child’s pants. This is a sign of chewing tobacco.
- You notice small, round burn holes on clothes or the seats of your teen’s car.
- Your teen is constantly using mouthwash, chewing gum or sucking mints.
- Your teen is leaving bedroom, basement or car windows partially open.
- You notice your child spending time outside more frequently.