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Preventing a Lifelong Tobacco Problem

March 15, 2017

From the Spring 2017 issue of AtlanticView Kids:

The issue of adolescents, teens and tobacco is widespread. It can also be lifelong:

  • Nine out of 10 adults who smoke began before the age of 18.
  • Many kids start by age 11. Worse: They’re addicted by age 14.
  • One in every 17 high school classmates smokes every day. Every day.
  • E-cigarettes, or “vapor” cigarettes, are highly addictive and lead to cigarette smoking, and are used by kids as young as eighth graders.

But there’s help – for both parents and for teens.

“Teen use of e-cigarettes is on the rise and cigarette smoking is still a concern, so it is very important for parents to take an active role when it comes to educating their children and teenagers about tobacco use. Parents have a much greater influence than they may realize when it comes to decisions their kids will make about smoking.” says Julie LaChapelle, LCSW, co-coordinator for Atlantic Health System’s TeenHealthFX.com.

Advice for Teens

1. Do not start. There’s good reason not to start using cigarettes, chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes.

  • Tobacco can hurt your lungs and heart to the point of affecting your ability to do sports.
  • Tobacco smoke can hang in your hair, clothes, car and breath.
  • It’s costly. Add up the expense of tobacco and related products over a week or a month.

2. If you smoke, check out these resources.

Parents: Communication Is Key

Talk to your kids about the negative impact of smoking on health. This can be done as early as age five or six. Discuss how the media glamorizes tobacco, and how that can manipulate them. Find out which of your teens’ friends smoke. Help your child practice how to say “no” to a cigarette. Show them that there are resources to help them stop.