Know! May 31st is World No Tobacco Day

Did you KNOW! tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in our country?  One out of every five fatalities could be prevented simply by not using tobacco. Yet 19% of adults and 18% of high school youth are regular tobacco smokers. And every single day in the U.S. another 3,500 children give cigarettes a try for the first time.

While most adults and youth are aware of the dangers of smoking, far too many choose not to heed the health warnings. The majority of adult smokers report picking up the tobacco habit as a teen. With that in mind parents, this is our opportunity to do all we can to prevent our children from taking that first puff.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 10 Ways to Keep Youth Smoke-Free:

  1. Set a good example: Youth tend to follow the important adults in their lives. If you don’t smoke, your child is less likely to smoke. If you do smoke, seek help to quit – now. The sooner you stop smoking, the better your child’s chances are of remaining smoke-free.
  2. Understand the attraction: For youth, smoking may be about rebellion or wanting to fit in with a particular crowd. Others get started because they think smoking will make them appear cooler, older or more independent.
  3. Say NO to youth smoking: Tell your child that smoking isn’t allowed. Parental disapproval is more powerful than most people realize.
  4. Appeal to your child’s vanity: Play up the fact that smoking is gross, not glamorous. Smoking causes bad breath and wrinkles, yellow teeth and stinky hair and clothes, not to mention a chronic smokers cough and decreased energy for sports, band and other activities.
  5. Do the math: Smoking is not cheap. Sit down with your child to calculate the cost of smoking a pack a day, then compare it to what he/she could buy in place of the money spent on cigarettes (like shoes, clothes or electronics).
  6. Expect peer pressure: Help your son or daughter practice refusal skills in times when they need more than a simple, “No thanks, I don’t smoke.”
  7. Take tobacco addiction seriously: Most youth tend to think they will never become addicted to tobacco, and can easily just smoke once in a while. Share with your child that most adult smokers became hooked as teens, and that quitting can be a lifelong struggle.
  8. Predict the future: Youth tend to think bad things only happen to other people. Use real-life examples to show how smoking has harmed your family’s loved-ones, friends and/or neighbors.
  9. Think beyond cigarettes: Smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes, candy-flavored cigarettes and water pipes are sometimes thought to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Be sure your child is clear that all of these carry negative health risks.
  10. Get involved: Take an active stance to support community and school-sponsored efforts to reduce and prevent youth smoking.

And remember, adults who think smoking is no big deal will have children who think the same. Make tobacco the topic of your next conversation. Be clear and firm in stating your expectations for your child not to smoke. Then talk through and discuss some of the items listed above. Know this is not a one-time talk, but an ongoing conversation.

To share health facts on smoking with your child, visit this great resource:

Sources: American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. BeTobaccoFree.Gov., U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Washington DC, 2013. Mayo Clinic: 10 ways to keep teens smoke-free.