On November 21st people all across the country will take the Great American Smoke-out challenge and choose to spend an entire day smoke-free. If you have ever been a smoker, you know just how hard it can be to go without smoking even for 24 hours. This event, even for those families without smokers, offers a great opportunity to talk to your teenagers about smoking and to help them understand why the best way to stop smoking is to never start. Here are some ways you can use the Great American Smoke-out as a teaching moment with your teens.
1. If you Smoke, Try and Quit
Even if it is only for the day, trying to quit smoking can provide your teen with some invaluable insight. In some ways, letting them experience the bonds of addiction vicariously through you may be the best thing you can do to encourage them not to smoke. A person who has never smoked, which hopefully includes your teens, doesn’t really understand the power of this addiction and the barriers to quitting. Take this opportunity to give your teen a first-hand look at just how hard it can be, just be sure you don’t sugarcoat any of the reality away.
2. If You Know Someone Who Smokes, Ask for Help
If you are not a smoker, but you know someone who is, encourage them to participate in the Smoke-out and ask them to share their experience. Getting the real deal from someone who isn’t your parent can make the message even stronger. Ask the smoker you know to talk to your family about the realities of smoking including health concerns, the cost, and how many times they have tried to quit.
3. Take a Stand
Although it may seem like your teenager never listens to you, you still need to tell them what they need to know. This includes taking a stand against teenagers smoking. If you are a smoker yourself, you may feel a little hypocritical telling your teenager not to smoke. However, if you look back and wish you had never started smoking in the first place, which is the message you need to impart.
4. Back Your Stand Up with Facts
Some teens choose to try that first cigarette as an act of rebellion; others because they want to be cool. No matter the reason, teens often try smoking because they don’t understand that it is as dangerous as trying drugs. While it is true that, unlike some drugs, smoking a single cigarette won’t kill you, it only takes that one cigarette to become addicted. This is especially true for teens based on information from the Centers for Disease Control as their bodies are more sensitive to nicotine and they can become addicted more quickly. As part of the Great Smoke-out, sit your teenager down and give them these facts from the CDC about the reality of smoking.
- Smoking causes cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, and esophagus
- Smoking causes heart disease and stroke
- Smoking causes lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
- Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in this country
- Each year, smoking is responsible for 1 out of every 5 deaths
- On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers
If you know someone who is trying to quit smoking, a great resource to refer him or her to is Arizona Smoker’s Helpline. They offer a vast array of free support and even smoking cessation medications.
- How to Help Teens Learn to Make Good Decisions (doorwaysarizona.com)
- Why You Should Argue With Your Teenager (doorwaysarizona.com)
- Helping Teens Feel Safe in an Unsafe World (doorwaysarizona.com)