6. Expect peer pressure
Give your teen the tools he or she needs to refuse cigarettes. Rehearse how to handle tough social situations. It might be as simple as saying, "No thanks. I don't smoke."
7. Take addiction seriously
Most teens believe occasional smoking won't cause them to become addicted and that, if they become regular smokers, they can stop smoking anytime they want. Teens, however, can become addicted with intermittent and relatively low levels of smoking. Remind your teen that most adult smokers start as teens. Once you're hooked, it's tough to quit.
8. Predict the future
Teens tend to assume that bad things happen only to other people. Most teens think cancer, heart attacks and strokes occur only in the abstract. Use loved ones, friends, neighbors or celebrities who've been ill as real-life examples.
9. Think beyond cigarettes
Smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes (kreteks) and candy-flavored cigarettes (bidis) are sometimes mistaken as less harmful or addictive than are traditional cigarettes. Teens also often think that water pipe (hookah) smoking is safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kreteks, bidis and hookahs all carry health risks. Don't let your teen be fooled.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to look like regular tobacco cigarettes. In an electronic cigarette, an atomizer heats a liquid containing nicotine, turning it into a vapor that can be inhaled and creating a vapor cloud that resembles cigarette smoke. Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes but there are safety concerns about potentially harmful chemicals being inhaled during use. Electronic cigarettes can get teens hooked on nicotine, too.
Research also suggests that teens who have used electronic cigarettes are more likely to try other forms of smoking within the following year than are those who have never used electronic cigarettes.
10. Get involved
Take an active stance against teen smoking. Participate in local and school-sponsored smoking prevention campaigns. Support efforts to make public places smoke-free and increase taxes on tobacco products. Your actions can help reduce the odds that your teen will become a smoker.
If your teen has already started smoking, avoid threats and ultimatums. Instead, find out why your teen is smoking — and discuss ways to help your teen quit. Avoiding or stopping smoking is one of the best things your teen can do for a lifetime of good health.
Oct. 15, 2015
See more In-depth
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- Facts for families: Tobacco and kids. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Tobacco-And-Kids-068.aspx. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Accessed Sept. 23, 2015.
- Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm172906.htm. Accessed Sept. 18, 2015.
- Leventhal AM, et al. Association of electronic cigarette use with initiation of combustible tobacco product smoking in early adolescence. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2015;314:700.