How to Talk to Your Teen About Smoking

Talking about smoking is not an easy conversation.

But you want the best for your teen, so it’s a necessary conversation to have. A simple way to explain how to talk to your teen about smoking is to give you an outline by using the 5 W’s and the How.

Who –  You want to talk to your pre-teen and teenagers about smoking.  

What –  What do you want to talk to your teen about? You want to talk to your teen about not taking up smoking.  You want to tell them about the negative effects on their bodies and their lives.

Where – The next thing you have to think about is Where you want to have the discussion.  Some parents often have conversations with their child about important stuff while driving somewhere like on the way to school in the morning.  If the topic  was personal to one child then the conversation had to wait for a one-on-one time.  As the parent, you decide the best time and location to have the conversation.

When – When do you talk to your teen about smoking?   I suggest that you talk to your child as early as possible.  If you can help it, try to talk about not taking up smoking before they are teens.  Start as early as possible. In this day and age they already know about smoking but may or may not have ‘tried’ it.  By the time they are a teen they may have already smoked with a friend. Addiction can start with one cigarette. Scary news, right?  Now you know you should that you need to talk to them as soon as possible.

Why –  Why do you want to talk to them about not taking up smoking?  Do a little research so you have all the facts regarding smoking effects and consequences to their health.  Try not to be too technical. Your teen has access to the internet and can also look up the information. Point out that their health and life would be at risk if they started smoking and that you love him or her. They need to hear it.  Say you will always be there for them.

How –  How do you tell your teen about smoking?  There are so many ways and examples you can give to your teen to demonstrate the effects that smoking has and why they should not start smoking.  Give life examples to try to show real life results. There may be a relative in your family that died due to smoking. There may be a family friend or acquaintance that died from the effects of smoking.  

Importantly, let your teen know that smoking is an addictive drug.  They have a counter-argument to this. They might say it is not a drug or the government would make it illegal.  You should prepare for this discussion.

A suggested reply could be that many cities in America have banned smoking in public places and included apartments and condominiums.  Also, it takes time to regulate smoking and other addictive drugs. Another truth is that once they start smoking that it will be difficult to stop. Reinforce that you love him or her and that you don’t want him to die before their time, and you want them to be healthy enough to enjoy their lives.

Another argument from your teen may be that everyone is doing it.  One possible response could be that the ones smoking are trying to give the image that they are adults and mature.  

Smoking won’t make them adults or mature. The mature decision would be to not start smoking and to stand your ground.  

Lead by example.  If you are trying to explain the effects of smoking and that you don’t want him to ever start smoking, lead by example.  Quit smoking if you do smoke. Your teen loves his parents and will follow their example. If you smoke, he has a greater chance of smoking even if you explain why he shouldn’t start.

Don’t be afraid to have this discussion.  This is your child and he or she needs to know. If you don’t bring it up, someone else will and that person might be the one convincing enough to start your child smoking.  Information has to come from you.

You want to guide him or her where to find the correct information. There are many nonsmoking organizations that inform the public about smoking and its effects. They also give information and resources about quitting smoking.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Lung Association, and WebMD are examples.   Also, don’t forget that your family doctor can be a good source of information for your teen.

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