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What Parent Can Do

Health effects of smoking

The short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine and the associated risk of other drug use.

Teens who smoke are three times more likely than non-smokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is associated with a host of other risky behaviours, such as fighting. Teenage smokers are more likely to visit doctor for an emotional or psychological complaint.

Long-term health consequences are lower level of lung function. Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth. Teenage smokers suffer from shortness of breath and produce more phlegm. Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. Poor physical fitness and endurance. The resting heart rates of young adult smokers beats per minute faster.

Teens and quitting smoking

Most teens think that they can stop smoking easily. Only 3 in 100 high school smokers think they will be smoking in five years. In fact, 60 in 100 will still be smoking seven to nine years later. It will take 16 to 20 years of addicted smoking before the average person who started smoking as a teen will be able to successfully quit.

What parents can do

Parents need to look out for telltale signs of smoking and tobacco use, here are some pointers:

Do your kid’s clothes, hair and fingers smell of smoke?
Have you spotted matches or lighters in the room or their bag?
Has he been leaving the windows in his bedroom open for no reason?
Are there burn holes in the clothing?
Has he started using mouthwash, breath mints or gum?
Does he or she have friends who smoke?

Here are some things you can do to help your children avoid the dangers of smoking:

  • Talk with your children about the health effects of smoking. Giving examples of family members or friends who have suffered from smoking- related illnesses.
  • Keep the lines of communication open by developing a trusting and comfortable relationship with your children. This includes being a good listener. When your children feel comfortable talking with you, they will be more likely to tell you if they've started smoking or are being pressured to smoke.
  • You can begin talking about the harmful effects of tobacco when your kids are as young as 5 or 6 years old. Continue with it through their school years.
  • Spend quality time with your children. Eating meals together is a great way to relax and talk about the day.
  • Get to know your children's friends and how your children are spending their time.
  • Teach your children how to say NO to tobacco. Every day, your children may be faced with opportunities to use tobacco. Talk with them about ways they can tell their friends that they don't want to smoke.
  • Be a good role model — don't smoke and quit if you do! What you do affects your children more than you might think.
  • Set rules and stick by them. Set curfews, which can help kids handle peer pressure to smoke.
  • Praise your children regularly and show affection. This will help your children to believe in themselves and feel good about who they are.
  • Talk to your children about smoking. It may look cool in movies or in advertisements, but the health problems or the yellow teeth, smelly breath, and wrinkled skin caused by smoking is not shown.
  • Don’t be too hard on them; in fact be extra supportive during the first couple of weeks when withdrawal symptoms may make your child moody and irritable. It may take several tries and several months before your child quits smoking for good. So be prepared for slip- ups.
  • Encourage a tobacco control programme in school. Classes at every grade level should be told about the dangers of smoking, programmes to help teens quit smoking, and enforce laws that prevent stores from selling tobacco to teens.

Intervention by teacher & dentist

Teachers have a great influence on young people, so they should not use tobacco around students. Take time out to talk to students about tobacco and its consequences.

8-14 years:  Educate by giving brochures on tobacco cessation, enlist their support at a young age to create an anti- tobacco attitude much before they are offered tobacco from a peer or adult.

14-21 years: This is the toughest period, since the majority of new users come from this age group. Inform them about the dangers of tobacco use and suggest healthy alternatives.

21 years and older: These people may need extra help with nicotine withdrawal. So, the doctor can ascertain their desire to quit and offer an alternative if they need one. Don’t badger, just let them know that you care and can help.

Counseling at TCC Centre will go a long way for a tobacco-free life.