Teen smoking: How to help your teen quit

Want to stop teen smoking? Follow this no-nonsense approach, from setting a good example to making a plan and celebrating success. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Teen smoking is a big deal. After all, teens who smoke are likely to turn into adults who smoke.

If you find your teen smoking, take it seriously. Stopping teen smoking in its tracks is the best way to promote a lifetime of good health.

Set a good example

As a parent, you're one of the most powerful influences in your teen's life — and your actions speak louder than your words. If you smoke, don't expect your teen to stop smoking. Your teen likely interprets your smoking as an endorsement for the behavior. Instead, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other resources to help you stop smoking.

In the meantime, don't smoke in the house, in the car or in front of your teen, and don't leave cigarettes where your teen might find them. Explain how unhappy you are with your smoking, and why it's so important to you to quit.

Start talking

You could simply tell your teen to stop smoking. It's an important message. But commands, threats and ultimatums aren't likely to work. Instead of getting angry, be curious and supportive. Ask your teen what made him or her start smoking. Perhaps your teen is trying to fit in at school, or maybe your teen thinks that smoking will help relieve stress. Sometimes teen smoking is an attempt to feel cool or more grown-up.

Once you understand why your teen is smoking, you'll be better equipped to address smoking as a potential problem — as well as help your teen eventually stop smoking.

Nov. 08, 2012 See more In-depth