90% of tobacco users start before age 18 (read this: while they still live in your home). I am a mother of three who feels passionately about my children not using any form of tobacco. As a physician I have presented the AAFP Tar Wars Program to 5th graders–an anti-smoking program aimed at 10-year olds.
Here is the skinny on how to approach the smoking issue. . .
Teaching short-term smoking effects are most immediate and effective for kids.
- Bad “zoo” breath
- Smelly clothes and hair
- Yellow teeth and fingers
- Holes or spit stains in clothes
- Coughing/hacking up phlegm
- Difficulty running
- Expensive (on average $5/pack)
Long-term effects are emphysema and cancer. Kids can “feel” the emphysema by running in place while breathing through a straw. Gasp. Wheeze.
Parents need to be aware of the Herculean outside influences–peer pressure and the media. Smoking in the movies is known as the single biggest media risk enticing young people to starting smoking. Smoking in PG-13 movies increased 50% after Big Tobacco signed agreements to end product placement in movies. Tobacco companies spend $34.2 MILLION a day to encourage smoking. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company has introduced dissolvable smokeless products flavored like candy. Snus is flavored (like peppermint) smokeless tobacco in a small teabag-like pouch put between the lip and gum. It is linked to oral cancer.
“Smokeless” is not harmless.
Be vocal. Be vigilant. Start early.
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