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Help Preteens and Teens Stay Smoke-Free

Posted Date: 10/28/2014
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Help Preteens and Teens Stay Smoke-Free

Tips for Raising Smoke-Free Kids


According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 16% of Staten Island residents smoke, higher than any other borough. Staten Island also has the highest smoking rate for adolescents in New York City, with over 2,000 high school students admitting to smoking. In fact, our youth rates are double those of Brooklyn and the Bronx.Help your child avoid trying that first cigarette.


“Adult smokers who begin as adolescents have a much more difficult time quitting, which often leads to serious health problems in their adult life. It’s important for parents to do everything they can to teach their kids about the dangers of smoking,” says Dr. Keith Diaz, Board Certified in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at Richmond University Medical Center.


Cigarette smoking during adolescence poses significant health risks to our children, including chronic asthma and bronchitis, and increased risk of hypertension and heart disease. Lung cancer is the number one cancer-related death among both men and women in our community. We also have the highest cases of heart disease, with smoking being a major risk factor.


The Centers for Disease Control stated that electronic cigarette usage is also on the rise,up from 4.7% to 10% for teenagers.We may ask ourselves if this is really a big deal.  The reason it is a big deal is because the main ingredient in e-cigarettes is still nicotine.


Nicotine has been linked to:

·         Nicotine addiction, intoxication

·         Blood vessel disease, including the arteries of your heart

·         Increased risk of stroke

·         High blood pressure and its complications

·         Reproductive problems, spontaneous abortions, prematurity

“Adolescents and young adults are extremely vulnerable to social and environmental influences. Smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette use has grown exponentially in the last few years and tobacco companies are spending billions of dollars on smokeless tobacco advertising. The use of these products lead to potential nicotine addiction and kids who use them are twice as likely to try conventional cigarettes.  This means that parents should include them when talking about tobacco use with preteens and teens,” says Dr. Diaz.


What You Can Do.
Have open conversations with your kids about the 
danger of smoking, how to avoid smoking all together, and how to quit.Here are specific steps you can take:


1.        If you smoke, quit. Children look to their parents as an example, and children of smokers are more likely to smoke.


2.        Start talking about the dangers of smoking when your children are ages 5 or 6. If you wait until they're 11 or 12, when they're likely to be tempted to try cigarettes, their health attitudes are already pretty well established.


3.        Explain to your children how tobacco advertising manipulates people into believing smoking is cool and image-enhancing. When looking at advertising, ask "Do you really believe the girl is going to want to kiss the guy after he takes that cigarette out of his mouth?"


4.        Mention the cost. Point out that kids who spend money on smoking could have bought CDs, new clothes, video games, or other things that matter to them.


5.        Pay attention to your children’s friends. The chances they'll smoke are greater if they have close friends who smoke. If your children's friends smoke, don't wait until your children start smoking to say something; bring up the subject first and help them deal with peer pressure.


6.        Get to know the parents of your children's friends. Are they smokers? Do they condone smoking? Work together to stay informed about your children’s activities. And keep your children busy in activities such as organized sports, biking or other endeavors.


7.        Know what you're talking about when mentioning the dangers of smoking.It's essential to communicate facts. There's no need for embellishment, to say smoking is worse than it is. The truth is bad enough.


8.        Arm your children with feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. What does self-confidence have to do with not smoking? Everything. Children who feel belittled or who are overly controlled will seek to escape one way or another and could take up smoking to rebel against authority figures.


9.        Tell teenagers about the negative effects of smoking that should matter most to them at their age, such as bad breath, yellow teeth, and reduced athletic abilities. Teens often don't respond to warnings about long-term health consequences.


Get Involved.
If your teen has already started smoking, avoid threats and ultimatums. Instead, find out why your teen is smoking — and discuss ways to help your teen quit.

Take an active stance against teen smoking. Participate in local and school-sponsored smoking prevention campaigns. Support efforts to make public places smoke-free and increase taxes on tobacco products. Your actions can help reduce the odds that your teen will become a smoker. Call us for more information, 718-818-1234.