As I have said before, I hate smoking and cannot understand why anyone would choose to start. But they do 🙁 and I’m scared that my children will face peer pressure to start when they get older. Some of my own school class mates smoked by the age of 13 and as I now work as an exam invigilator so I can smell the smoke on children’s clothes and breath 🙁 Recently I have seen children vaping on the way to secondary school and admit to being a bit taken aback but, whilst still addictive, it is preferable to actual smoking!
It is common for teenagers to experiment with smoking – it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do. So, how do you stop a teen from trying this common adolescent behavior? Teens may consider smoking as being an innocent thing to try, but it can become a long-term problem that can last a lifetime. How do you explain that the first puff could result in a lifetime of smoking addiction?
To help your teen avoid smoking or vaping it is important that you understand why teenagers smoke and speak to him or her using a teenager perspective. I hope this post will provide some top tips on how to stop a teen from smoking without being too overbearing.
Setting A Good Example
Studies have shown that teenagers who smoke are more likely to come from homes where the parents smoke. If you are a smoker and want to stop your teen from smoking – quit. The sooner you stop smoking, the less likely the chance of your teenager beginning to smoke. There are various ways to cease smoking nowadays, so speak to your doctor regarding this issue. In the meantime, because addiction is not easy to overcome, it is recommended that you do not smoke in the house, in the car or in front of your children. Do not leave cigarettes in areas where your teen is able to find them and explain to your teen how smoking makes you unhappy instead of viewing it as a pleasurable activity. It may be useful to point out how difficult quitting is as this can deter the teen from beginning in the first place.
Understanding The Attraction
Teenage smoking is often a form of rebellion or a means of fitting in with the “cool kids”. It is also possible that teenagers will begin smoking to lose or control weight, while some will smoke to feel independent. To effectively speak with your teenager about smoking it is important that you understand why they smoke and discover the attraction. It is recommended that you speak about the teen’s friends and if they smoke as this can draw the teen to smoking, but can also be a good conversation point. It could be useful to discuss tobacco companies and how they attempt to influence the stereotype of smoking with attractive product placement in films making the act more glamorous than it really is.
Say No To Smoking
While you may feel rebuked and ignored with your teen seeming to not hear a word you say (my kids don’t listen to me already!), it is important that you share your opinion anyway and tell him or her that smoking is bad. Do not allow the teen to smoke and you will find your disapproval has a greater impact than you imagine. It is seen that many teens who have smoking restrictions are less likely to smoke than those who do not have limitations set by their parents.
Appealing To The Teenager’s Vanity
One aspect to remember is that teenagers typically have increases feelings of vanity and reminding the teen that smoking is a smelly behavior can prompt distaste from others. Point out that smoking gives you wrinkles, bad breath, yellowing teeth, a horrible smell to your hair, clothes and a chronic cough – all of this can be a strong deterrent. As a former dental nurse, I have seen the effects on the teeth and gums: it isn’t pretty!
Calculate The Expense
Smoking is, needless to say, an expensive habit. When discussing smoking it is recommended you help your teen calculate the weekly, monthly and annual cost of smoking a pack per day. You can compare to cost with the value of electronic devices, clothes or teenager essentials and ask them if they have the pocket money for smoking!
Consider Peer Pressure
A strong cause of many rebellious behaviors in teenage years is peer pressure, so it can be useful to provide your teen with the tools to refuse cigarettes. It can be beneficial to rehearse reactions to peer pressure situations with something as simple as rejecting a cigarette.
Taking Smoking Addiction Seriously
The majority of teens believe that the occasional cigarette will not result in a smoking addiction and if they do become regular smokers they will be able to stop at any time. Of course, this is untrue and many teens become addicted to intermittent smoking. It is recommended that you remind your teenager that the majority of adult chronic smokers began in their teens – once you start, it is so tough to quit.
Predicting The Future
Teenagers will typically assume that bad things happen to other individuals and never them. The majority of teens consider cancer, strokes and heart attacks as abstract concepts happening to strangers. It is possible that using relatives, loved ones, neighbours or celebrities as real-life examples could cause the teen to consider smoking as a negative activity. My own grandmother died from throat cancer, probably linked to smoking :'(
Thinking Beyond Cigarettes
Smokeless tobacco, candy-flavored cigarettes and clove cigarettes are sometimes mistaken as less addictive than traditional cigarettes; however, they can be as detrimental. In fact, teens also consider the water pipe or hookah to be a safe smoking tool. Unfortunately, this error can lead a teen to begin smoking more and more; therefore, it is recommended that you inform your teen of the misconceptions and the health risks.
I hope I have a few more years before I have to worry about this. My children are currently revolted by smoking and I hope that I have given them the confidence and the knowledge about the dangers of smoking to be able to say ‘no’ when the time comes.