Tobacco products and secondhand smoke pose dangerous threats to children and their health. Carson City Health and Human Services wants to help you and your family live tobacco-free!
Information for Parents
The dangers of secondhand smoke affect kids’ health and development. If a child is exposed to secondhand smoke frequently, it can cause health problems including ear infections, asthma attacks, respiratory problems, and it can also increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). For information on how to protect your children from secondhand smoke, click here.
Children are easily influenced by the decisions and actions that their parents make. According to a 2005 study, twelve year old children with smoking parents were more than two times as likely to begin smoking between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one compared to children with non-smoking parents. Additionally, children with mothers who smoked were 53% more likely to have behavioral problems than children whose parents did not smoke. Fathers who smoked were more likely to influence their sons than their daughters. For information on how to quit smoking, click here.
You can help your child live a tobacco-free life. Here are some ways to encourage your child to avoid tobacco if they seem interested in smoking or other tobacco products:
1. Lead by example: Teens are twice as likely to smoke if their parent(s) smoke. Learn how to quit smoking, and in the meantime, do not smoke in front of your child or leave cigarettes/tobacco products where your kids can see them. Explain to them why you are unhappy with your habit, and encourage them to learn from your mistakes.
2. Understand why your kids may want to smoke: Since a lot of the attraction of cigarettes comes from the media, explain to your child that cigarette companies target them as possible smokers. Explain why tobacco is bad for them, and ask them why they might be interested in tobacco products. Encourage open conversation in a safe environment.
3. Set rules: Children may be more likely to avoid smoking if they know that their parents do not approve.
4. Appeal to vanity: Explain that cigarettes are not as glamorous in real life as they are made out to be in the media. Explain that smoking causes wrinkles, bad breath, dry hair, brown fingers, and the like.
5. Add up the cost: Find out what the average cost of smoking would be per year. Compare that cost to the cost of some of their favorite things, such as electronics, clothes, or music.
6. Teach your children how to say “no”: Children are often peer-pressured into smoking or using tobacco products. Help them come up with a simple way to refuse a cigarette, such as, “No thank you, I don’t smoke”. Simple phrases will get the message across without it becoming uncomfortable for your child.
7. Teach them about addiction: Many adult smokers first started in their teens. Children may not believe that addiction will happen to them, but even intermittent smoking can lead to addiction. Explain to them the dangers of addiction and how tough it is to quit once they start.
8. Explain the health risks. Many teens do not believe anything bad could happen to them, but smoking can have negative health effects on any smoker. Use personal examples of people you know or people they admire. Show kids how much more likely they are to have a heart attack, stroke, or lung cancer due to smoking and other tobacco-products.
9. Encourage close friends and family to talk to your child: Tell your child that you love them and want them to be around for a very long time. Your family may help your child realize the risks of smoking are not worth endangering their life. If your children’s peers talk about the risks of smoking, they may be encouraged to stay away from tobacco products.
10. Help your teen quit: If your teen is already a tobacco-user, do not get angry. Instead, facilitate conversation about why they are using tobacco and how you can help them quit. Contact local health districts or your child’s school to find programs to help teens quit smoking.
If you have a child 13 years or older that smokes, they qualify for FREE one-on-one counseling that will help them quit. Their coach will help them make an individualized plan, so that they can quit using tobacco products. Visit NevadaTobaccoQuitline.com for more information and resources.
Information for Kids and Teens
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your body. Although the number of people starting to smoke has decreased over the years, about 3,200 kids and teens start smoking each day. In the long run, smoking can cause many illnesses such as heart disease and lung cancer. However, smoking tobacco products can have short-term health effects as well. These may include:
- Bad breath
- Yellow teeth
- More colds
- Coughing and breathing problems
- Difficulty running or playing
Plus, smoking is very expensive! If you smoke a pack a day, you are spending about $160 a week, which equals $8,500 a year! Think of all the video games and clothes you could buy with that money.
Remember: Smoking under the age of 18 is illegal. If a cashier catches you trying to purchase tobacco underage, they could call the cops, and you might have to pay a large fine!
What are tobacco products?
Tobacco is a plant that can be smoked or chewed. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, snuff, chew, dip, and others. These products contain thousands of chemicals, including a cancerous chemical called nicotine, that can cause life-long health effects such as cancer or stroke. Tobacco products can be addictive, and anybody that uses these products is at risk for addiction. Once you become addicted, it is very hard to quit.
Are e-vapor products better than tobacco products?
No. Vapor products, such as e-cigarettes, are not better for you. They still contain the chemical nicotine as well as many other cancer-causing chemicals. E-cigarettes and other similar products were created to help people quit smoking. However, they have recently become “trendy”, meaning that many people now use them to look “cool”. However, these products are just as dangerous as tobacco products.
Why do kids start smoking?
Kids may start smoking for a variety of reasons. If someone’s parents smoke, they may become curious to try smoking. Other kids feel pressured to try cigarettes from their friends, some smoke because they think it’s cool, to be rebellious, or to seem more like an adult. Smoking is also very common in our TV shows, movies, and video games. Tobacco companies pay to have their products shown on TV and in movies so that kids think they are cool and start using their products. Don’t be fooled! Cigarettes and tobacco may seem cool in movies or TV shows, but they are actually very dangerous to your health.
What happens the first time I smoke?
Many people do not like smoking when they first try it. It normally burns your chest and throat, and you may cough or throw up. If you swallow chewing tobacco, you could be sick for hours. Your body knows when it is being poisoned, so it will react by making you sick.
What if my friends are pressuring me to smoke?
Peer-pressure is something that all kids and teenagers deal with at some point in their lives. Even adults experience it! However, you should never give in to peer-pressure, especially if it is something you do not want to do. Before you experience peer-pressure, you should come up with an easy way to say no. If someone asks if you want a cigarette, you can say, “No thank you, I do not smoke”. Most people will not bother you after that. If they are still bothering you, you can tell them that you are not interested and that the health effects are not worth it. Tell them the truth, and do not let people make you feel bad for saying no. You may even encourage kids to refrain from smoking! Many kids give in to peer-pressure, because they want to fit in or be liked. However, you should never be friends with people who make you do dangerous things to fit in.
My parents or friends smoke. What should I do?
You can help people quit smoking by talking to them about why you want them to stop. Tell your friends or family that you love them and want them to be around for a long time. Do not get angry or defensive or your family member/friend may change the subject. Instead, be loving, supportive, and gentle. If they will not quit smoking, help them make rules about when and where they can smoke. Help them find resources to quit smoking. In Nevada, your friends and family over the age of 13 can call the Nevada Tobacco Quitline, which will provide them with FREE counseling to quit smoking.