Make time to talk to your kids about the dangers of tobacco.
Being a parent is no easy task — especially when it comes to discussing important issues like tobacco use. But as a parent, your attitudes and opinions will strongly influence your child’s behavior. That’s why it is essential to talk to your kids about the dangers of tobacco.
Tobacco use among teens is a major problem in Oklahoma. Just look at the stats.
Every 3½ hours in our state, a child under 18 becomes addicted to some form of tobacco. Teen smoking rates in Oklahoma are also high. Right now, 14.6% of high school students smoke cigarettes, notably higher than the national rate.
Youth tobacco use leads to increased risk of severe nicotine addiction, which narrows blood vessels, increases blood pressure and puts added strain on the heart. Smoking results in shortness of breath, asthma and respiratory illnesses… not to mention cancer and other chronic diseases.
As a parent, you play an important role in preventing youth from using tobacco. Throughout the school year, it’s likely your child will face peer pressure to smoke. So make time to talk about the dangers of tobacco before they start using it. The following five tips can help you get the conversation started:
1. SHARE THE FACTS. Give your children the honest facts about smoking and tobacco use so they can make healthier choices. If friends or relatives have been affected by tobacco-related illnesses, explain the role tobacco played.
2. TALK EARLY AND OFTEN. Over 600,000 middle school students in the U.S. have already started smoking. It’s never too early to warn your child of the dangers of tobacco use.
3. HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN TO SAY “NO.” Youth are highly vulnerable to the pressure of the tobacco industry. Help them create a plan for how to say “no” when faced with these pressures.
4. MAKE IT A TWO-WAY CONVERSATION. Talk with, not at your child. Listen carefully and actively to what your child says, and encourage them to ask questions or share their feelings and concerns.
5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Children of parents who smoke are more likely to become smokers themselves. If you use tobacco, don’t do it in your child’s presence, and definitely don’t leave it anywhere that they can get it.
Keeping your child tobacco free can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Your attitude, actions and opinions play a huge role in helping your children make the right choices when it comes to tobacco. With your guidance, you can protect your children and improve the health of our state.
- For more tips on talking to your kids, click here.
- For more information on youth tobacco use, click here.
If you’re a parent who smokes, think about quitting. Free help and nonjudgmental support is available from the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit OKhelpline.com.