Tips for parents on teenage smoking
If you are a parent and you want to prevent your children from picking up smoking, it is important to understand a few things first.
Did you know that roughly 3,000 teenagers pick up smoking each day? This means that the tobacco companies get 1 million new addicts per year from teenage smokers alone. The most shocking fact is that over 90% of smokers begin before the age of 20 and most adults who do not choose to smoke before that age never pick up the habit. This is why younger adults or teenagers are prime targets for tobacco companies. The earlier people pick up the habit, the more deeply addicted they become as adults. This puts more money in the tobacco companies pockets since the addiction is so difficult to kick and only a fraction of smokers will ever quit.
Why teenagers start smoking:
1. Group acceptance
If their friends smoke, many teenagers will begin smoking simply to maintain their acceptance within the group. This is a result of peer pressure and the overwhelming desire teens feel to fit in.
2. Image projection
Smoking has an image associated with it and as teens struggle to find their identity and portray it to others, they may think that smoking will help create that. For young men, they want to look rugged, tough, manly, cool, or more mature than others. For women, they want to portray an image of sexiness and desirability.
Rebellion in some form is part of teen life. Many teenagers take up smoking because they know it annoys/bothers/infuriates their parents and other adults. There is also a feeling of being independent or making their own decisions that go against what they may have been taught by society or their parents.
4. Adult aspirations
Many teenagers desire to become adults and more mature. They may choose to smoke because it is an adult habit and they are asserting their maturity and fact that they are no longer children.
What can parents do?
As a parent, if you understand the reasons teenagers pick up smoking you may be able to have a more educated and informative conversation with your children about smoking. Instead of just pounding it in their heads that smoking is bad for them, some teens may respond to a conversation about being prepared to handle these desires and channeling them a different way. Teenagers are immortal and they never believe they can ever become addicted. As a result, teaching them at that level can be difficult and they may not be responsive. Try to speak to your teenagers at their level and from a perspective they will understand.
Go through magazines or movies where images are created that target teens. Ask your children what they think about those ads and educate them on why the tobacco companies are marketing that way. Inform them that they are prime targets for the tobacco companies and illustrate why the tobacco companies want them to become addicted to smoking.