Talking to Your Child About Cigarettes and Smoking

Nine out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18. In 2014, about 8 percent of middle school students said that they used tobacco in the last 30 days. The number is even higher for high school students.

Tobacco use in children has gone down. However, it is still very common. You can help reduce the chances that your child will start using tobacco. One of the key steps is teaching your kids about the dangers of smoking.

Here are some tips to think about when you talk to your children about smoking:

  • Talk about it early
    It is never too early to talk to your children about smoking. Some children start smoking as early as the age of 11. Some are even addicted by the time they are 14.
  • Tell them the risks
    Make sure your children know the health risks of tobacco use. Smoking can cause coughing, asthma attacks, and other breathing problems. Make sure they know that advertising does not really show the bad effects of smoking.
  • Make it personal
    Do you have a friend or relative who is sick or unhealthy as a result of tobacco use? Let your children know how tobacco use has affected that person and you and your family.
  • Be an example
    If you smoke, you can set a good example for your children by trying to quit. If you need help quitting, call the quit smoking hotline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). They can help you quit cigarette smoking, discuss reasons why you should quit, provide steps to quit and tips on handling cravings. They’ll also suggest medicines that can help and tell what you can do if you slip.

If you cannot quit, do not smoke in front of your children. Make sure you do not leave tobacco where they can find it.