Kids & Smoking—

Kid's addiction to nicotine from cigarette smoking,
smokeless tobacco (chew), and cigars is a major
public health problem.

The Facts about adolescent smoking:

•   Approximately 3,000 adolescents start smoking every day
and one-third of them will die prematurely of a smoking related
disease (American Cancer Society).
•   Cigarette smoking and tobacco use are associated with
many forms of cancer.
•   High school students who smoke cigarettes are more likely
to take risks such as ignoring seat belts, getting into physical
fights, carrying weapons, and having sex at an earlier age.
•   Most adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18.
•   Nearly 3 million U.S. adolescents smoke.         
•   Smoking is the main cause of lung and heart disease.
•   Smoking worsens existing medical problems, such as
asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.
•   The earlier a person starts smoking, the greater the risk to
his or her health and the harder it is to quit.
•   Tobacco is considered to be a gateway drug -- which may
lead to alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drug use.
•   Tobacco use continues to be the most common cause of
preventable disease and death in the United States.

Kids at MOST risk for Tobacco use:

•   are very influenced by advertisements that relate cigarette
smoking to being thin and/or suffer from eating disorders
•   deny the harmful effects of tobacco
•   exhibit  characteristics such as toughness and acting   
grown up
•   have fewer coping skills and smoke to alleviate stress
•   have moms & dads, siblings, or friends who smoke
•   have poor academic performance, especially girls
•   have  poor self esteem and depression

What Moms & dads can do to prevent Tobacco use:

•   Ask about tobacco use by friends; compliment kids who do
not smoke.
•   Ask whether tobacco is discussed in school.
•   Discuss with your kids the false and misleading images used
in advertising and movies which portray smoking as glamorous,
healthy, sexy, and mature.  
•   Do not allow smoking in your home and strictly enforce your
No Smoking rule.
•   Do not allow your kids to handle smoking materials.
•   Do not allow your kids to play with candy cigarettes. They
are symbols of real cigarettes, and young kids who use them
may be more likely to smoke.
•   Emphasize that nicotine is addictive.
•   Emphasize the short-term negative effects such as bad
breath, yellowed fingers, smelly clothes, shortness of breath,
and decreased performance in sports.
•   Help kids to say "No" to tobacco by role playing situations in
which tobacco is offered by peers.
•   Make tobacco less readily available to kids and adolescents;
support higher taxes on tobacco, licensing of vendors, and
bans on unattended vending machines.
•   Moms & dads are role models.  If you smoke, quit.  If you
have not quit, do not smoke in front of your kids and tell them
you regret that you started.
•   Support school and community anti-smoking efforts and tell
school officials you expect them to enforce no smoking policies.

If your youngster or adolescent has already begun to use
tobacco, the following steps can help him or her to stop:

•   Advise him/her to stop. Be non-confrontational, supportive,
and respectful.
•   Assist his/her efforts to quit and express your desire to
•   Enlist the youngster's pediatrician or family physician to help
the youngster stop smoking.
•   Help your youngster identify personally relevant reasons to
•   If the youngster is abusing other drugs and/or alcohol or
there are problems with mood or other disorders, evaluation by
a youngster and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health
professional may be indicated.
•   If you smoke, agree to quit with your youngster and
negotiate a quit date.
•   Provide educational materials.

Smoking: Facts for Teenagers—

What's in cigarettes?

Cigarettes contain disgusting things that
you would never think about putting in
your body. For example, cigarettes contain
tar, carbon monoxide, chemicals like DDT,
arsenic and formaldehyde (a gas used to preserve dead

The tobacco in cigarettes also contains nicotine--the drug that
makes puffing addictive. All of these things are bad for your
body. Nicotine raises your risk of heart attack and stroke. Tar
and carbon monoxide cause serious breathing problems. And
you know cigarettes smoke causes cancer.

What's the real deal with cigarettes?

Cigarettes is toxic (poison) to your body. It causes more health
problems and early deaths than all illegal drugs combined. On
top of that, cigarettes are addictive. This means that once you
start using it, your body starts to need it. The longer you use
cigarettes, and the more you use, the harder it is to stop.
Everyone who smokes started by "just trying it." That's how
the habit and the addiction begin.

Saying no to cigarettes...

Television and radio make it sound easy to "Just say no" to
drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. But it may not be so simple for
you. You may be facing pressures from friends who smoke, you
may be stressed out at home, school or work, or you may
think puffing is going to make people like you. Don't let anyone
or anything, whether it's friends or cigarette ads, convince you
that it's okay to smoke. If you need help to say no, there are
people who can help you. Talk to someone you can trust, like a
teacher, a school counselor or your family doctor.

Is chewing tobacco as bad as cigarettes?

Yes. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco are toxic to your
body. You may hear more about the harm cigarettes do to the
body, but chewing tobacco can also hurt the body. Chewing
tobacco can cause sores and white patches in your mouth, as
well as diseases and cancers of the mouth, gums and throat.
Chewing can give you bad breath, discolor your teeth and
cause tooth loss. And one chew contains 15 times the nicotine
of a cigarette (meaning the risk of addiction is much higher).

It's never too late to quit...

If you smoke, it's not too late to make a change. To quit, you
must break your addiction to nicotine and your habit of puffing.
Your habit is the behavior that goes with your cigarettes use,
such as getting out of school and lighting a cigarette.

Reasons not to smoke:

•        Arguments with parents, friends
•        Bad breath
•        Bad smell in your clothes, hair, skin
•        Cancer risk
•        Cigarette burns in your car or on your clothes
•        Cough/sore throat
•        Expensive (over $1500 a year for a pack a day)
•        Feeling tired and out of breath
•        Gum disease risk
•        Heart disease risk
•        Problems breathing
•        Risk of secondhand smoke to people around you
•        Stained teeth and hands
•        Wrinkles (more, sooner)

Things to do instead of puffing:

•   Call a friend.
•   Chew sugarless gum.
•   Chew sunflower seeds, ground mint leaves or caffeine-free
herbal tea leaves.
•   Go to a movie or another place where you can't smoke.
•   Remind yourself why you want to quit.
•   Take a walk or work out.

Steps to make quitting easier:

•        Keep track of where, when and why you smoke. You
may want to make notes for a week or so to know ahead of
time when and why you will crave a cigarette. Plan what you'll
do instead of puffing (see list above for ideas). You may also
want to plan what you'll say to people who pressure you to

•        Make a list of the reasons why you want to quit. Keep
the list on hand so you can look at it when you have a nicotine

•        Pick a stop date. Choose a date 2 to 4 weeks from today
so you can get ready to quit. If possible, choose a time when
things in your life will change, like when you're about to start a
break from school. Or just pick a time when you don't expect
any extra stress at school, work or home. For example, quit
after final exams, not during them.

•        Tell your friends that you're quitting. Ask them not to
pressure you about puffing. Find other things to do with them
besides puffing.

•        Throw away all of your cigarettes. Clean out your room if
you have smoked there. Throw away your ashtrays and
lighters--anything that you connect with your smoking habit.

•        When your stop date arrives, STOP. Plan little rewards
for yourself for each cigarettes-free day, week or month. For
example, buy yourself a new shirt or ask a friend to see a
movie with you.

Q & A--

How will I feel when I quit?

You may feel edgy and irritable. You also
may get angry or upset faster, have trouble
concentrating and feel hungrier than usual.
You may have headaches and cough more at first (while your
lungs are clearing out). All of these can be symptoms of
withdrawal from nicotine. Keep in mind that the worst
symptoms will be over in a few days. However, you may still
have cravings for cigarettes. Those cravings have less to do
with nicotine addiction and more to do with the habit of puffing.

What about over-the-counter nicotine replacement products?

These products may help you if you feel like you can't quit on
your own or you have serious withdrawal symptoms. But don't
use nicotine replacement products without talking to your
doctor first. These products were not designed for teens and
could make you sick if you use them the wrong way. You may
need to follow special instructions.

What if I can't quit?

You can quit. Most people try to quit more than once before
they succeed. So don't give up if you slip. Just don't go
overboard and buy a whole pack of cigarettes. Instead, think
about why you want to quit. Think about what happened to
make you slip. Figure out how you'll handle that situation
differently next time. Then recommit yourself to quitting. You
can do it!

Will I gain weight when I quit?

Some people gain a few pounds. Other people lose weight. The
main reason some people gain weight is because they eat more
food as a substitute for puffing. You can avoid gaining weight
by watching how much you eat, staying busy and working out.
How To Help Children
Stop The Smoking Habit
Ask The Parent Coach—


My 16-year-old daughter is experimenting with tobacco. She
is not a "smoker" in the fullest sense of the term ...does not
have "the habit" just yet ...but is starting to head down that

Any tips on how to help her make the right decision before
she becomes a tobacco addict?



Hi N.,

If your daughter is smoking, it will ultimately be up to her
to quit. But you can help. Your intervention is critical. Don't
lecture, don't punish. But don't accept excuses like its "not
a big deal" or  "I can quit anytime." Support your child in
helping her quit. It's one of the best parenting activities you
could ever do.

1.        Avoid threats and ultimatums. Find out why your child
is smoking. Your teen may want to be accepted by a peer
group, or she might want your attention. Plus, adolescence
can be stressful.

2.        If you did smoke and have already quit, talk to your
child about your experience. Personalize the little problems
around smoking and the big challenge of quitting. Teens
often believe they can quit smoking whenever they want, but
research shows many teens never do.

3.        If you smoke, quit.

4.        Make a list with your teen of the reasons why she
may want to quit. Refer back to this list when your teen is

5.        Show your interest in a non-threatening way. Ask a
few questions and determine why your teen is smoking
and what changes can be made in her life to help her stop.

6.        Be supportive. Both you and your teen need to
prepare for the mood swings and crankiness that can
come with nicotine withdrawal. Offer your teen the
5 D's
to get through the tough times.

The 5 D's of Quitting:

Quitting is difficult for adults and teenagers. When cravings
hit, knowing what to do can help:

  1. Deep Breath: Take a few calming deep breaths.
  2. Delay: The craving will eventually go away.
  3. Discuss: Talk about your thoughts and feelings.
  4. Do something else: Find a new habit.
  5. Drink water: It will flush out the chemicals.

Good luck,