Teenage Smoking Prevention

Teenage smoking prevention isn't easy. Statistics say 1 in 2 teens have tried some form of tobacco, cigarettes being the most popular form. Learn about national efforts to prevent teen smoking and what parents can do to help prevent adolescent smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) teen smoking statistics estimate that as many as 4,000 teenagers try some form of tobacco for the first time each day. Most of it is in the form of teens smoking - since cigarettes are the most popular form of tobacco use. It is important to help prevent teen smoking, since these are the years that most people start their lifetime addiction to tobacco. It is also important to do what is possible to prevent teen smoking since tobacco use can lead to alcohol, substance abuse, and illegal drug use.

National efforts to prevent teen smoking

There are many efforts being made nationwide to stop teen smoking. There are public service announcements talking about the dangers of tobacco use, especially smoking. These ads show pictures of what someone’s lungs can look like when they are smoking. Now, though, the anti-smoking ads are starting to focus on things that are more important to teenagers than health effects that seem a long way off.

New public service announcements addressing teen smoking include appearance and other immediate effects of smoking. These ads point out that smoking and other tobacco use can discolor teeth, make the breath smell bad and add an overall shabby appearance. These appeals are made in the hopes that teenagers - in the hopes of having better appeal to members of the opposite sex - will avoid smoking and other tobacco use. Studies have shown that focusing on immediate consequences can help spur changes to behavior more than focusing on consequences that may not be visible for years down the road.

Most efforts in teenage smoking prevention are done on the state level. Billboards and media ads are most common. Many states are also adding Web sites aimed at helping smokers quit, as well as Web sites that offer help to the loved ones of a smoker. One example of this is www.wediditstory.com, which focuses on providing tips to friends and relatives of a smoker, helping them find ways to understand the difficulties and tips they can use to help loved ones quit smoking.

Things parents can do to help prevent teen smoking

There are some things that parents can do to participate in teenage smoking prevention with their own kids. The CDC has a list of suggestions that may help you prevent your teenager from starting to use tobacco:

  • Consider your impact. Even though smoking is glamorized in movies, TV and music, parents can still have a large impact. Remember that by spending time with your teenager and showing that you care can actually help your teen avoid smoking and using other forms of tobacco.
  • Talk about the risks of using tobacco. Be direct about the dangers and risks associated with tobacco use. This can be especially helpful if there are friends and/or relatives that are suffering from tobacco use. If you can use a practical example of the dangers associated with teen smoking, this can help illustrate the point. Also included in this: The unpleasant physical aspects (bad breath, discolored teeth and nails, etc.).
  • If you use tobacco, try to quit. You can help prevent teen smoking by quitting your own tobacco habit. While you are trying, avoid leaving your tobacco in visible places. Don’t offer to share it with your kids. And share your story of the difficulties in quitting, and how you wish you hadn’t started. You can even ask for your kids’ help in kicking the habit.
  • Start talking to your kids about tobacco use early. It is never too early to start warning your kids against smoking and other forms of tobacco use. You can start when they are five or six, and let them know how dangerous it is. Also, get in the habit of talking openly with your children when they are younger. This can help with other issues, including teen sex, drugs and alcohol, as they get older.
  • Discuss the glamorization of smoking. When you see smoking in TV or movies, or hear about it in music, discuss it with your teenagers. Make sure that they understand that advertising and other media depictions aren’t real. This is something that can apply to other issues as well.

The most important key is communication. Clearly state your expectations for your children from a young age, and cultivate a safe home environment. This will help your kids feel comfortable talking to you about their concerns and issues - and it can make a big difference in teenage smoking prevention down the road.

Related Article: Effects of Teen Smoking >>