Your kids and tobacco
As a parent, you want your children to live long, healthy lives and avoid dangerous habits – especially smoking. The good news is that government policies for smoke-free workplaces and public areas and health information are helping to keep children from starting smoking in the first place. In a recent survey by Health Canada, only 2% of youth reported smoking. The number of Canadian youth trying tobacco products has also continued to fall. Only 21% of youth in grades 5 through 9 reported every trying any tobacco products. This represents a 50% drop since 1994. Still, your child may be at risk.
Why do some kids start to smoke?
We know that kids who start smoking do not feel confident about themselves. Some teenagers are easily affected by pressure from their friends and family. Other teenagers believe the hype that smoking is cool and grown up. Many teenage girls smoke because they think it will help them be thin.
How can I keep my child from smoking?
- Although it may appear that your children don’t listen to your advice, your opinions do matter to them. Tell your children you don’t want them to smoke. Period.
- Make your home smoke-free. It will not only protect your children from dangerous second-hand smoke exposure, but it will also provide a positive role model for them.
- Talk about the costs of smoking – not only to their health but also to their wallet. Smoking is expensive. Wouldn’t they rather spend their money on clothes and movies?
- Remind your children often that they are wonderful and that you like, respect and admire them. Help them feel good about themselves.
If you’re a smoker – quit. Call Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers' Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or visit the Smokers’ Helpline Online program. You can also call Health Canada’s 1-800 Quit Lines or visit the Health Canada and search “quit smoking”.
- If you or your partner smokes, your child has a 50% increased likelihood that he or she will also smoke. Even if you’re a smoker, you may still talk to your kids about smoking and its health risks.
Quick facts about smoking
- Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 toxic chemicals, which can cause damage to the heart, lungs and other organs.
- Carbon monoxide in smoke makes your blood less able to carry oxygen. As a result, your heart has to work harder to get enough oxygen to your body.
- Nicotine in cigarettes makes your heart beat faster. It also increases your blood pressure and plaque deposits on the inside walls of your arteries. When plaque breaks off, it triggers the formation of blood clots, the major cause of heart attack and stroke.
If your child is already a smoker, you may want to speak to your healthcare provider about ways to help him or her quit. You may also want to encourage your son or daughter to visit Health Canada’s Web site for youth Quit4Life.
Last reviewed December 2009.