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Child Smoking

It's hard to imagine your elementary-aged child even considering the idea of smoking. However, 90 percent of all adult smokers started when they were children, and each day nearly 4,000 kids become regular smokers. Sure, these facts aren't to scare you, but they should also serve as a heads up that your young child might actually try smoking sometime in the near future; maybe he already has.

Why Children are Attracted to Smoking

Children are drawn to the idea of smoking for a variety of reasons: to look cool, act older, seem tough, look independent, or follow in the footsteps of their particular role-model. You can help prevent your child from smoking. Once you have established a solid foundation of communication, you and your child can tackle this tough issue together.

To discourage children from smoking, try these steps:

  • Ask your child questions. Ask him if he has any friends that smoke or if he's seen any of his peers smoking. Ask him if he thinks smoking is cool or if he finds anything appealing about smoking.
  • Explain the dangers of tobacco use to your child. This doesn't mean creating a slideshow presentation or making him watch a video from the 80s. You aren't his teacher, so teach him the dangers of smoking from a parent's perspective; just causally bring it up in conversation.
  • Encourage your child to get involved with after-school activities. Almost every school activity, such as sports or clubs, prohibits smoking,
  • Discuss ways to respond to peer pressure situations. Tell your child that simply saying "no" should be enough but if he feels the need to provide a more detailed answer, things like, "I just have no interest," or "I don't like the way it makes me smell," will work.
  • Discuss the reality of smoking. If you happen to see a commercial or magazine ad where smoking is glorified, explain to your child the true effects of smoking and why it shouldn't be considered glamorous by any means.
  • Don't be a hypocrite! If you choose to smoke, take it outside. Don't smoke in front of your child because it will only encourage smoking. Your child will inevitably ask you why you can smoke and why he can't. It's ok to say, "You shouldn't smoke because it's addictive, and now that I've started, it's very hard to stop. If I could go back and do it again, I would have never started."

It may be hard to not give in to the idea of constantly lecturing your child about the dangers of smoking. However, this kind of behavior may just tempt your child more. Talk calmly and rationally with your child, and never jump to conclusions. Smoking is a lifelong habit, and children are less likely to pick it up when they have guidance and a solid foundation of healthy habits.