Teens and Smoking - Expert Advice to Prevent and Stop your Teen From Smoking
According to the most recent Surgeon General’s Report entitled, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People, the report focuses on the vulnerability of teens and teen smoking, especially between the ages of 10-18, the ages most users start using tobacco products. Studies show that over 28% of high school teens smoke. It demonstrates the health effects of the use of tobacco products as well as smokeless tobacco products. A major portion of this report is devoted to defining an effective, coordinated, non-smoking public health program geared to stop teens from smoking.
The report used medical, epidemiologic, behavioral and social investigative findings. It points out the overwhelming need for public health efforts that support programs that stop teens from smoking as the first step in reducing the 434,000 deaths that occur annually in the US.
The onset of protracted tobacco and smokeless tobacco use begins in adolescence; teen smoking is decades removed from the tragic side-effects and therefore, adolescents tend to not give it much ... Read more
Dr. Jocelyn Elder, MD, Surgeon General has said, “The public health movement against tobacco use will be successful when young people no longer want to smoke…Despite 30 years of overall decline in smoking…widespread dissemination information…decline in social acceptability…a substantial number of young men and women begin to smoke and become addicted…”
Teens face immense peer pressure to smoke. Notably, the tobacco industry spends approximately $4 Billion on promoting tobacco and smokeless products, making smoking look “cool”. Promoting smokeless products with young images only helps promote teen smoking. On a positive note, in 1997, after a settlement between Big Tobacco and state attorneys, the tobacco industry was forced to contribute $500 million a year to anti-smoking efforts. Later settlements forced the tobacco giants to create and support anti-smoking campaigns, targeting 10-14 year olds.
However, the hidden agendas of the Tobacco Giants include sponsoring youth events and utilizing the prevention materials and tools – even when there is no evidence that these programs reduce youth smoking. They have gained recognition from legislators, improved their public image and obtained highly valuable data on youth, all under the guise of trying to prevent youth smoking.
The majority of teens who smoke report they want to quit but are not able to; they experience withdrawal symptoms and relapse. Additionally, teens who have a low self-esteem and are trying to fit in, have friends who smoke and are subjected to peer pressure, and who have not developed the skills to overcome pervasive influences typically become smokers.
Chemicals in Tobacco Products
Teens brains are still developing, making them more vulnerable to nicotine addiction. There are many chemicals, some occurring naturally and some additives that are in found in all tobacco products:
- Benzene – also found in gasoline
- Beryllium – also found in nuclear weapons
- Cadmium – also found in batteries
- Lead – found in old paint
- Formaldehyde – found in embalming fluid
- Naphthalene – found in moth balls
- Hydrogen Cyanide – found in insecticide
- Vinyl Chloride – found in PVC piping
- Carbon Monoxide – found in car exhaust
Preventing Teens from Smoking
One of the causal contributors to teen smoking is too much idle time and lack of positive stimulation. Starting at a very young age, start by keeping your kids involved in sports, music, art or any other activity that stimulates them and keeps them involved. Connecting with their peers in these activities develops a healthy, competitive nature as well as social skills. These two areas will help your child develop into an independent thinker, they will be receiving healthy stimuli, and become better achievers. By keeping them busy and out of “bad company”, the chances of your child turning into a rebellious teen smoker are greatly reduced.
While it may not be possible to be with your child at all these activities, show support and celebrate their achievements as much as possible. Attending their football, baseball, basketball games, their concerts, and their art shows lets them know that you are proud and supportive of all they are doing. They need to know you are there for them.
If you want to stop teens from smoking, talk to them. Share the list of chemicals that are found in tobacco products and help them see the unseen dangers. It takes 10 seconds for nicotine to get from the lungs to the brain in teens. Addiction is almost unavoidable. If they need help quitting, buy the gum and patch kits to help them.
Avoid scare tactics. Instead, in order to stop your teens from smoking, help them understand that you are giving them information so they can make informed decisions, emphasize your unconditional love, support and genuine care; soon they develop the proclivity to actively listen and engage in more positive activities.
Smokeless tobacco products and non-combustible cigarettes, including vaporizers are equally harmful – they contain the same chemicals. While kids may enjoy the variety of flavors, marijuana is included among the list of “juices” for the vaporizers. Help them understand that “vaping” is not “cool”.
The efforts to protect our kids, disseminate information and stop teen smoking is now global. Each victory, whether by state or by country is a victory for everyone. Teen smoking is a high priority to the CDCs, both locally and globally. Heavier taxation has had a positive impact in prevention and efforts to stop teens from smoking. New efforts are being introduced, such as “plain packaging” which will hopefully curtail the “attraction” to cigarettes.
Learn more about the efforts being made globally on teen smoking. Join organizations such as Tobacco Free Kids; get you kids to join in their efforts too. Spend more time with your kids talking. Earn their trust and respect. Acknowledge their point of view – you don’t have to agree with it. Discuss their reasons and your reasons for not agreeing – do this in a sincere, civilized, and respectful manner. Respect their intelligence and avoid phishing for information – let them tell you what they want to tell you. Help them develop skills to resist bad influences and stand their ground. With time, you and your teen will bond, providing them an outlet for intelligent discussions. With this support network in place, it is only a matter of time before you will be able to discuss teen smoking and will be successful in preventing your teens from smoking.