Monday, December 30, 2013

Advice To Have An Underage Smoker

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control found that about 3,900 minors start smoking each day. Of those, about 1,500 will develop a daily habit. Teens usually start because of peer pressure, sexy ads, availability or media influence. But it is never too late or too early to give up smoking. The sooner a young person quits, the lower the immediate and eventual risks. Quitting today can reduce the risk of developing a life-threatening or life-ending illness tomorrow.

Lead by Example

Advice for an underage smoker should go beyond the moral and legal issues. Parents should present the cold, hard truth about the health risks. Inform them that cigarettes kill, and the longer they smoke, the harder it is to quit. Stress that nicotine addiction is as hard to break, studies show, as heroin or cocaine addiction.

Now throw in some positive reinforcement. Tell your teen that if he quits now, within 10 to 15 years of cessation, the risk of developing lung cancer is only slightly higher than that of a nonsmoker. Explain the different ways to resist peer pressure. Most importantly, lead by example and don't smoke, or the battle may already be lost.

Present the Facts

Advise your teen of what is in cigarettes. Even some adult smokers don't realize that tobacco is not the only dangerous ingredient in cigarettes. Cigarettes contain the highly addictive substance nicotine, as well as carbon monoxide, tar and various chemicals, including arsenic and formaldehyde. Explain that formaldehyde is the foul-smelling preservative on the dead frogs in biology class, and tar and carbon monoxide are toxic and will eventually impede breathing.

Make it real. Show images of a cancer-ravaged lung. If they believe that they are old enough to light up, then they should be old enough to know the truth.

Preaching morality may only make it more seductive. If you can relate, if you used to smoke and have successfully quit, explain how hard it was. The best advice is to keep the lines of communication open. Talk about the dangers and don't lecture, as it may just make it more forbidden and therefore more appealing.

Appeal to Vanity

Young people are often short-sighted. They live "in the now," due to a lack of maturity that distinguishes their impulsive decision-making from that of adults. Appeal to your child's specific sensibility. If health is not enough of an incentive, meet her at his own level of understanding.

If your daughter is preoccupied with appearance, tell her that smoking turns teeth yellow. Show her images of tethered, wrinkled skin caused by smoking, and compare that to an image of a nonsmoker. Don't forget to discuss breath, kissing, and smelly hair and clothes.

If your child is an athlete, discuss lung capacity and how his performance on the field will be diminished. Add the price of a pack-a-day habit totaled over one year and explain how all that money could instead be saved for clothes or video games.

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