On August 17, 2005, Dr. Michael H. Popkin, the voice of Lorillard Tobacco
Company's Youth Smoking Prevention Program, hosted a live, online chat to
discuss ways you can encourage children and teens to stay away from smoking.
The discussion was thorough and varied, with topics ranging from effective
conversation starters to the enforcement of appropriate consequences for
kids who smoke.
Dr_Popkin> Good afternoon, welcome to today's chat about talking
with your kids about the importance of not smoking. I appreciate
you taking your time to consider ideas for safeguarding your children from
the risks associated with tobacco. Your input through questions and comments
will help make this chat a worthwhile experience for everyone.
Jordyboy: I have
a six-year-old daughter. Is it appropriate to start talking to
her even at this age?
Dr_Popkin> It's almost never too early. Kids as young as 8 are being offered
cigarettes. By 7 or 8, you can start having short talks about the reasons they
llj11: What is the average age for a child to try smoking for the first time?
Dr_Popkin> Ninety percent of people who smoke begin before the age of 18,
which is why it's so important to talk to kids early. A particularly risky period
is middle school...
Alex: What warning signs should I look for?
Dr_Popkin> Hanging around with other kids who smoke, taking long walks to
get out of the house, and sinking grades may be signs. Also watch out for a dip
in self-esteem, a lack of interest in favorite activities, and difficulty communicating
birdie2: when do i broach the subject of not smoking? we are going on vacation
soon and i am wondering if this is the right time to discuss.
Dr_Popkin> Vacations are a great time to talk about important topics like
not smoking, especially if you're taking a long car trip with a captive audience.
sassymom: I know that my child has experimented with smoking. How should
I approach this situation?
Dr_Popkin> You can let them know that while it's normal to want to experiment,
smoking is just too dangerous. The research is clear: parents who let their kids
know that they will be upset if their kids smoke make a positive difference.
birdie2: Thanks, Dr. Popkin. I will use the long car ride to start the conversation.
Dr_Popkin> You're very welcome - thanks for joining us
Charlie: I'm not sure what the best way would be for me to start talking
to my child. Any advice?
Dr_Popkin> Try to begin with a real situation. If you see someone smoking
on the street or on TV, ask your child what he thinks about smoking. Reading
or watching books and videos about smoking at home can also be good places to
johnf: Young people seem to be smoking more than ever. Will they relate to
stories of people like Peter Jennings and others who have had their health adversely
affected by smoking--or do they just think they're immune?
Dr_Popkin> Actually the smoking rate has continued to decline among teens
during the last decade, which is good news. The bad news is that 25 percent of
teens still smoke.
Dr_Popkin> As for Peter Jennings, I'm gald you mention him. This is a wonderful
opportunity to begin a discussion on how smoking can destroy a great life.
Get a copy of a recent magazine with his picture on the cover and use it to
start the conversation.
Today_s_Mom: I have already talked with my children about
smoking and they have had programs through school. How do I keep re-introducing
the subject as they get older without tipping the balance of trust with
them as well?
Dr_Popkin> Because they don't think about health problems that may
occur in 20 years, tell them how smoking will affect their looks now -- yellow
teeth, pasty skin, and bad breath. Tell them smoking is against family rules,
and there will be consequences for breaking rules.
Dr_Popkin> Remember repitition is good, but don't turn it into a lecture.
Get a dialogue going in which you build a strong case against smoking
coupled with clear consequences for breaking a family rule against smoking.
Brandon1: I am an adult smoker, but I don't want my child to
pick up the habit. How do you approach the subject of
smoking is wrong with the child, if they know you are a smoker?
Dr_Popkin> You can still be a positive influence. Tell your children you
want them to smoke and don't smoke around them. Tell them if you want
to quit, but you must follow through and at least make an effort to do so.
Stress that while you smoke, it is not appropriate for kids to do so.
ldk: at what age does the average teen start smoking?
Dr_Popkin> Studies show that some kids start experimenting with smoking
as early as age 8, with most trying their first cigarette between the ages
12 and 14. Teaching them to make the right decision about smoking while they
are young also builds the foundation for open communication about other tough
pollypo: What about kids who smoke marijuana and use cigarettes
to boost their high. As a result they are become addicted to
cigarettes. What advice to you have?
Dr_Popkin> No matter what reason they choose to use tobacco, you still
want to make the case that it is not alright for them to do so and continue
to make your arguments.
CurtWarner28: I'm very worried about my son taking up smoking
but he's very combatitive. Is there a subtle or softer way to approach
him about the topic without his getting defensive or stand-offish?
Dr_Popkin> Stay calm and try not to lecture. Listen to what he has to say
without judging. Explain that you're talking with him because you
love him and want him to be healthy and happy.
Dr_Popkin> With some kids the health risks aren't as important as other
factors. For example, some are influenced by how smoking destroys
your looks over time: yellow teeth, wrinkled skin, bad breath, smelly clothes,
Sarah: My husband and I are experiencing some strain in our relationship,
and I wonder if this type of stress in the house could make
our child more likely to try something like smoking.
Dr_Popkin> Your ability to persuade your children not to smoke has a lot
to do with having an overall positive relationship. If things are rocky at
home, they may experiment with smoking as a way to rebel. Reassure your kids
that you will always love and support them. Seek professional family counseling
if your problems seem too big for you to tackle alone.
Today_s_Mom: What role do you think actors and athletes should
play in promoting none smoking? How do you combat what Hollywood
has dramatized very heavily over recent years?
Dr_Popkin> A number of actors and athletes have websites encouraging kids
not to smoke. Introduce these sites to your kids and look for other
positive examples. As for movies, it would be a big help if Hollywood would
always portray smoking as unhealthy and uncool. When they don't, parents can
use these examples to talk about "what aren't they showing you?" For
example, you might ask your child if the character will be looking so cool
when he's dying of cancer.
DallasDad: What should I tell my son to say to other kids
who might try to pressure him into trying cigarettes?
Dr_Popkin> Humor: No thanks, I like my teeth white not yellow. Reverse
pressure: Smoking isn't cool. Honor: No, I promised my parents that I
Dr_Popkin> These are all examples of role-playing examples you can use
to coach your kids about how to say no without losing face.
What are some of the influences that cause kids to smoke
today so that we can avoid the problem?
Dr_Popkin> The biggest influence is having friends who smoke. Get to know
your teens' friends' parents and work on the problem together.
Dr_Popkin> Kids also smoke as a way to rebel, so work on your overall
relationship with your child through postive parenting skills.
it a foregone conclusion that virtually every kid
will try smoking at some point?
Dr_Popkin> No, absolutely not. A lot of kids go their whole lives without
trying a cigarette.
Dr_Popkin> Among those that do try, two out of three do not become
regular users. Still, because some kids still become
addicted, it's important for parents to use resources like the ones on
this website to help their kids to never even try cigarettes in the first
heafay: what about having parents who smoke?
Dr_Popkin> Well, the best thing you can do for your kids is to give up
smoking and to let them know that you're doing it because you want them never
to smoke. If you're not ready to make that commitment, use your own experience
to help influence them by saying something like, "I know from personal
experience how hard it is to quit smoking once you've started."
Dr_Popkin> "That's why it's so important to me that you never
even start smoking."
soccermom: If I suspect my child is smoking
is it okay to search their room and/or car
for evidence of smoking?
Dr_Popkin> I think kids should be afforded their privacy in much the same
way the government affords us our privacy. In other words, if you
cause" to suspect your teen is smoking, then it is OK to do the search.
However, without any warning signs of smoking, these kinds of searches
will be seen by your kids as an invasion of privacy and damage a good relationship.
Dr_Popkin> So, proceed carefully and make sure they know that you're
doing this out of love and concern for their safety and not as some
kind of "tobacco
Katie: What are the signs I should be looking
for if I believe my child is smoking
behind my back?
Dr_Popkin> Hanging around with other kids who smoke, taking long
walks to get out of the house, and sinking grades may be signs. Also
watch out for a dip in self-esteem, a lack of interest in favorite
activities, and difficulty communicating with you. Any of these could
mean that your child is concealing smoking from you.
thought it would be a good time to remind you of the steps of a good
no smoking talk:
Dr_Popkin> 1. Ask questions. Don't lecture, get a dialogue
going. 2. Listen non-judgmentally. Don't put your child's
ideas down. 3. Make a persuasive case. Tell then how much you love
them and want them to be healthy and strong. 4. Set the rule and consequences.
Let them know smoking is against the rules and lay out the consequences
for breaking that rule.
Brittany06: How do I convey to my children how
harmful smoking is to their health when
they always see strangers at restaurants smoking and it appears normal?
Dr_Popkin> Restaurants are a good opportunity to start up a talk. Make
a point to sit in the non-smoking section and explain why you make that decision
for yourself. When you see other people smoking, you can talk to your kids
about the enormous risk they are taking.
Dr_Popkin> Again, this is a great time to use the Peter Jennings
example. Here was a guy who looked great on TV every night, but what
you didn't see was inside his lungs he was dying.
Today_s_Mom: I know
one of my child's friends smokes. Though
I know the friend's parents, we are not close. Should I and
how would I approach them about their
Dr_Popkin> You can't pick your children's friends, but you can
encourage her to spend time with other kids who don't smoke and whose
parents share your concern about not smoking, drinking or using drugs. Tell
her that the smoke smell on her clothes isn't very appealing to boys
and that even being around smokers can hurt your skin and affect her looks,
not to mention her health. Suggest that she ask her friends not to smoke when
she is around.
Dr_Popkin> Also approach your child's friend's parents to see if you have
common grounds about teen smoking. Maybe they need some encouragement
to take a forceful stand with their own child.
Dr_Popkin> Your efforts may save a life.
StevenD: My youngest child
has a DARE program at school and seems
to have a good grasp of the health risks of smoking.
But my older son doesn't seem to care
about the harmful effects of smoking.
Why is this?
Dr_Popkin> Younger kids respond better to talks about health risks. Teens
and preteens know about the risks, but often don't think they will
affect them. That's why it's important to focus on things that are more immediate
and relevant to older children, like their appearance or the consequences
they will face at home if they smoke.
stacy_s_mom: I have a 16 year old daughter
who smokes frequently. I've tried everything
to get her to stop. Do you suggest "tough love" as
a proper punishment when logic and reason fail?
Dr_Popkin> I'm not a big proponent of tough love. I think your kids need
to understand the consequences of smoking both in terms of health and family
Dr_Popkin> Establish consequences like keeping them home more often
so you can make sure she is not smoking, loss of use of the car, and
checks of personal belongings. Do these things lovingly, indicating
that you want her to grow up health and safe. But be firm.
Dow: I noticed
in my son's summer baseball league that
a few of the kid's on his team are using chewing tobacco. I'm afraid
he might want "to fit in" with
his team mates. Could you provide some
information on how to apporach the subject with him and facts to let
him know that even though he not smoking tobacco it could be dangerous?
Dr_Popkin> Let them know that spit tobacco can cause cracked lips, white
spots, sores, bleeding in the mouth, and oral cancer.
Dr_Popkin> In Canada where they actually post pictures of smoking related
diseases on cigarette cartons, there is a particularly digusting
picture of a mouth destroyed by chewing tobacco.
Dr_Popkin> They found that pictures are 60 times more effective
than words in preventing tobacco use. If you can find such a picture
it would be a great way to start a conversation.
Bettina: My husband
smokes. How do I tell my kids not to
smoke without making my husband be the bad guy?
Dr_Popkin> Let your kids know how strongly you feel about not smoking,
but explain that smoking doesn't make your spouse a bad person. If your spouse
wants to quit, let them know and discuss how difficult quitting can be.
stacy_s_mom: If you have family members
(other than parents) that smoke, how
do you explain that it's an acceptable
behavior for them as adults when you
are trying to talk to them about NOT
Dr_Popkin> You need to explain that it's an adult decision, but smoking
is never a very smart decision. The problem is that once a person becomes
addicted to tobacco, it's often very difficult to give up.
Dr_Popkin> This doesn't make the person any less of a person. It
just means they may need time, help and encouragement to give up this
tish: what is the best way to respond to my child if i discover
that they have smoked? Or have been smoking?
Dr_Popkin> Be direct. Tell them you
want them to stop smoking right away. If you haven't already established
consequences for smoking, do that now. Be firm, but also suggest fun
things to keep them busy like exercising and playing sports or video
games. Encourage them to avoid those who smoke and to go places where
they can't smoke, like movie theaters or the mall. Ask your teen if
he can stop on his own or if he needs help. If they can't or won't
stop on their own, make an appointment
with your teen's doctor for help.
BenjisDad: I just learned that my child
is smoking and I want to punish her for
doing it. What are some good punishments?
Dr_Popkin> The best form of discipline is always to find consequences
that are logically connected tot he misbehavior that you want to change.
For smoking, explain that if you are
not able to trust them not to smoke when they are out of your sight,
then you will have to keep them home more often where you can keep
an eye on them.
Dr_Popkin> This means they may have to miss non academic activities
like parties, dating and going over to
friends homes for a period of time. You can also have them use some
of that time to research and write a paper on why not smoking is cool.
You should try to establish these consequences before you have to hand
them out, though. And when the time comes to do that, stay calm. Remind
your child that you love him and want to see him grow up happy and
Getty: If you are a smoker how do you go about punishing a
child for smoking, without looking hypocritical?
Dr_Popkin> Again, emphasize that smoking is an adult choice and
that it is never okay for teens.
Dr_Popkin> However, if you are ready to give up smoking, this is
a great time to do so.
Dr_Popkin> We know that 90 percent of people begin smoking before
age 18. So the goal is to postpone your teen's interest in smoking
for as long as possible increasing his or her chance of never becoming
Brittany06: My 15 is very stubborn, like
most teenagers. Once she has her mind
set on something she will do it regardless
of the consequences. I'm afraid to punish
her, because often it doesn't change
her behavior but makes her sneakier.
Also, what good is making her stay at
home when it just makes smoking sound
more taboo and increases the liklihood
she will smoke at the next opportunity.
Dr_Popkin> Some kids respond to consequences, others, like you pointed
out, don't. With your daughter, you'll
have to try harder to help her see that
smoking is not in her own interest.
Dr_Popkin> Use outside resources like pictures, news stories, videos,
websites to help make your case.
Dr_Popkin> Abd if you know someone who has experienced the negative
health effects of smoking, get that person
to talk to your daughter.
Dr_Popkin> Once a teen wants to stop smoking, they may still be
too addicted to do so on their own. If
this is the case make an appointment with your teen's doctor to find
other smoking cessation programs and resources in your area.
Dr_Popkin> Some teens who are depressed find that tobacco alleviates
some of their depression. There have
been some good results using antidepressant
medications to reduce smoking. You may want to consider whether your
teen would benefit from a meeting with a therapist.
GolfGuyGSO: Is there
an age where kids simply won't listen
to parents anymore about not smoking?
Dr_Popkin> Keep it in your conversations until they are at least
21 and are confirmed non-smokers. Kids
are very influenced by peer groups. An 8-year-old who thinks that smoking
is stupid may decide to try it when she is 13 because her friends are
Today_s_Mom: The friend is younger and
I feel I should approach her parents
to let them know this is going on. Is
it my place to tell them directly? I
would want to know if it were my child.
Dr_Popkin> Yes. Parents working with other parents is often the
most effective route to take in addressing
many teen problems including smoking.
Dr_Popkin> Your approach to preventing teen smoking is twofold:
persuasion and consequences.
Dr_Popkin> Make a clear rule in your family that smoking is not
okay for teenagers and that there will
be consequences such as loss of freedom, loss of privacy, loss of a
car, and other measures for breaking this rule.
Dr_Popkin> If they do smoke, follow through with these consequences
for a period of time while continuing
to talk to them about why smoking is such a destructive habit.
Dr_Popkin> Ask them if they can stop on their own or if they need
help to stop. Then follow through.
My daughter has asthma. I'm concerned
that if she hangs out with friends who smoke, it could affect her
health. Should I encourage her to avoid
Dr_Popkin> You can't pick your daughter's friends, but you can encourage
her to spend time with other kids who don't smoke and whose parents share
your concern about not smoking, drinking or using drugs. If that doesn't work,
suggest that your child tell her friends about her asthma and ask them politely
not to smoke around her. Tell her that if they are true friends, they won't
want to do anything that will harm her.
new_mom: My son believes that chewing
tobacco is better for you than smoking
cigarettes. Can I have some professional
input on this?
Dr_Popkin> Don't get into an argument about which is worse. Tehy
both can cause cancer and other health
Dr_Popkin> Focus instead on helping your son find alternatives that
can satisfy his oral urges. For example,
many big league baseball players have
switched from tobacco to bubblegum.
johnf: I see a lot of young people
smoking because their parents smoke.
I'm not a parent myself, but how can I convince
my adult friends to ensure their children "do
what I say, not what I do"?
Dr_Popkin> First, I'm not sure kids smoke because their parents
smoke. Most research suggests that teens
are more likely to smoke if their friends are smoking.
Dr_Popkin> Still, it would be a great benefit for parents to make the following
bargain with their teens: "I love you so much that I'm willing
to give up smoking if you promise never
Dr_Popkin> If you do this, you'll have to make sure you follow through.
Dr_Popkin> I'd like to ask all of you a question: What are some
arguments that you have found to be effective
in preventing you or your teen from smoking?
I like that concept but my children are
now young adults. Do you think that "bargin" will still work with them?
mamabear1: Sorry, I should have been
more specific. I meant the "bargin" that
I would quit if they promise to never
Dr_Popkin> It certainly may. But the fact is, you have nothing to
lose by asking. (Nothing to lose but
a bad habit)
tish: should my child be punished for
Dr_Popkin> Rather than "punishment" I talk about a concept called "logical
consequences" in my Active Parenting courses.
Dr_Popkin> The concept involves finding consequences that are logically
related to the misbehavior, in this case
Dr_Popkin> For example, it is logical that if you can't trust your
teen not to smoke, then you have to keep
him home more often where you can keep
an eye on him.
Brittany06: If I start smelling smoke on my child's clothing and already
know she is smoking, how can I get her to stop at that point...she's quite
Dr_Popkin> Let her know firmly that it is not okay for teens in your
family to smoke. Then enforce the logical consequences that you think are
Dr_Popkin> Be ready to handle her anger, but remain firm explaining
that you love her too much to let her destroy her health with tobacco.
Dr_Popkin> Then ask her if she can stop on her own or if she needs
Dr_Popkin> Follow through by checking up on how she is doing.
Is there a correlation between smoking and drug use or are these
two totally separate problems.
Dr_Popkin> Many experts talk about smoking as a "gateway" drug.
In other words, most people who use harder drugs begin with tobacco.
This is just one more reason why it's important to talk to your kids
about not smoking, and to talk to your kids often.
MiamiJB: My teenager took up smoking after going through drug
rehab. He says he needs something to keep he from going back to
drugs. Should I tell him to quit?
Dr_Popkin> You need to help your teen learn to appreciate his
health. Right now, he is playing a lesser of two evils game. When
he comes to understand that whether he hurts himself quickly through
a drug overdose or over time through smoking, both are foolish choices
if you care about yourself.
Dr_Popkin> Help him find a safe alternative to tobacco for his
oral needs: gum, mints, raw carrots, etc. Then help him find
healthy activities for his adventure needs: skate boarding, rock
climbing or other edgy sports might give him the thrill he misses
from drugs without the health risks of tobacco.
new_mom: If my son
is addicted to smoking, does that open up the doors for him
to start using harder drugs?
Dr_Popkin> It puts him one step closer to using harder drugs,
but doesn't mean he'll necessarily take that step.
new_mom: Since it is against the law to smoke under the age
of 18, what would the consequences be if caught?
Dr_Popkin> This probably varies from state to state, but the biggest
risk from smoking aren't the legal consequences, which are pretty
minimal, but the health risks, which are major.
Dr_Popkin> As parents, it's important to enforce consequences
in the family for smoking. As communities, it's important
to support programs like "We Card" to make sure retailers
are not selling tobacco to minors.
heafay: Kids think they are invicible.
Dr_Popkin> It's part of our job to convince them that they're
not. Again, use outside resources, such as pictures, videos and other
graphic material to show the health consequences of smoking.
Dr_Popkin> But, because of what you say, this still won't get
through to some teens. So be ready to use other arguments. Some kids
are motivated by the "yuck" factor -- yucky breath, smelly
hair, wrinkled skin, yellow teeth.
Dr_Popkin> Other kids are motivated by the monetary factors
-- help them work out the math on what they could save in 10 years
if they avoided a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit and invested
the money instead. They'd be astounded at what they could purchase
with that money.
heafay: how can you get kids to understand the
Dr_Popkin> Get a copy of the latest Newsweek magazine for a great
example. Peter Jennings said that he started smoking as a teen. He
had no consequences until his mid 60s. At that point, he should have
retired with 25 years of a great life ahead of him; instead, he died
from lung cancer.
Katie: If my child is smoking behind my back and
has developed a habit, what measures should be taken in order
to break them of that habit? In other words, what would be a
successful approach to confronting them and dealing with the
Dr_Popkin> Be direct. Tell them you want them to stop smoking
right away. If you haven't already established consequences for smoking,
do that now. Be firm, but also suggest fun things to keep them busy
like exercising and playing sports or video games.
Dr_Popkin> Encourage them to avoid those who smoke and to
go places where they can't smoke, like movie theaters or the
mall. Ask your teen if he can stop on his own or if he needs
help. If they can't or won't stop on their own, make an appointment
with your teen's
doctor for help.
johnf: I think kids smoke for the
same reasons they're now getting tattoos--they
think it's cool. Plus, some of their pop culture heros are being photographed
while smoking tobacco or even other substances.
Dr_Popkin> I agree with you. When kids think smoking is cool,
they're more likely to smoke. This is why so much of the anti-smoking
advertising focuses on showing smoking for what it is -- a disgusting
habit that ruins your skin, teeth and overall appearance. Some of
the celebrities also have anti-smoking websites where they help get
out the message that smoking isn't cool. Help your kids find these
sites on the internet.
Bob: Are young people influenced by smoking scenes
in the movies?
Dr_Popkin> If smoking scenes portray smoking as cool, because
cool characters are smoking, this sends a very negative message that
should be avoided. When movies show uncool characters smoking, the
message is probably a positive one.
pollypo: How many p[rograms are avaiable to help
teenagers quit orreduce smoking
Dr_Popkin> There are smoking cessation programs in most communities.
Talk to your child's physician or the local health department to
find ones in your area.
ConcernedUncle: How can I talk to my nephew about
the dangers of smoking, while still maintaing
a "cool uncle" image?
Dr_Popkin> Funny you should ask - I will be having this conversation
with my nephew this evening. If your nephew sees you as cool, and
assuming that you don't smoke, you're in a good position to point
out how uncool smoking is.
Dr_Popkin> You can talk about how it's a waste of health, money,
looks and time, none of which is cool.
Dr_Popkin> Plus, girls who don't smoke don't like kissing
boys who do. And that's not cool, either.
new_mom: Don't all
addicts start smoking when they are young?
How common is it for an 18 year old to decide to become a smoker?
Dr_Popkin> Statistics show that 90 percent of all smokers begin
before the age of 18. That's why it's important to talk early and
often, and let your teens know that they can make that decision when
they are adults. In other words, postpone the decision and they'll
probably never take up smoking at all.
Stressed_Out: My two-year-old daughter has
seen a neighbor and various relatives smoke outside. Of course
she's very curious and wants to know what's going on
--- How do I tell my daughter that these
folks, who she otherwise likes and respects are engaging in
a dangerous and unhealthy activity?
Dr_Popkin> With young children, you can begin putting smoking
in a negative context by making comments like, "Smoking's yucky
or gross," or "I wish Mr. so-and-so would give it up --
it's bad for him."
heafay: How can you help with the self esteem
issues that they might be goign through that
are contributing to tobacco use?
Dr_Popkin> You're right that there are often a lot of issues that
underlie smoking. It's important to work on building your teen's
courage and self esteem, as well as other qualities of character.
There are many ways to do this...
Dr_Popkin> You can find many of these at ActiveParenting.com.
(Sorry for the plug, but this is what we
Lizzy: I feel like I've tried everything to get my daughter
to stop smoking and nothing works. What
do I do now?
Dr_Popkin> If encouragement and enforcing consequences haven't
worked, you may want to consider a professional stop smoking program.
Some teen cessation programs work with schools. Check with your teen's
school to learn if one meets there. Other places to check include
your family physician, local hospital or your health insurance company.
Dr_Popkin> I agree that help and support for quitting is
an idea that's time has come, but don't assume that all teen
smokers can quit when they want to. About a third of teen
smokers become addicted and need outside help to stop.
It 's not exactly Prevention, but along
the lines of doing something positive when/if your teens smoke: I think
that offering help to stop smoking & then following up to see
how they're doing is TREMENDOUS. It may not be a new concept,
but it is one that was never offered to myself as a teen-smoker;
i doubt that it was even considered. That is not said to sound
mean toward anyone. The suggestion was given to stop smoking.
Being the teens that we were, we could quit anytime that we
wanted to quit - if we wanted to quit. Because we were smart,
we knew that we wouldn't smoke for too long b/c we knew it
was dangerous & not smart, we were tough.... How great
it would have been to have support like
this back in the day.
Dr_Popkin> I agree that help and support for quitting is an idea
that's time has come, but don't assume
that all teen smokers can quit when they want to. About a third of teen smokers
become addicted and need outside help to stop.
Lizzy: I once saw my youngest (when
she was 3) pretend to use a skinny toy as
a cigarette. So it's clear to me
that kids are influenced by smoking even before they really know what it
is. How do you deal with a situation
where they are just not old enough
to comprehend what it is that they're imitating?
Dr_Popkin> I would gently take the toy out of her mouth and say "We
don't smoke in our family, because it is yucky and bad for you. Let's
play with this." And then give her something else to play with.
Dr_Popkin> Opportunities like this are great for giving
young children a negative context for smoking. Always be ready
to gently put down smoking with a digusted face and words
GeorgiaOne: Dr. Popkin, I have been
aware of your Active Parenting programs
for years, and think your advice is wonderful.
Do you have an E-mail newsletter
or other updates that I can subscribe
Dr_Popkin> You can go to our web site at www.activeparenting.com
and click on the parent section for information about parenting courses
in your area and other information.
GeorgiaOne: Thank you. Does the keep
kids from smoking website also have
an E-mail list?
Dr_Popkin> Yes, you can ask me a question any time in the "Ask
Dr. Popkin" page within the "Parenting Expert" section
of the KeepKidsFromSmoking.com website.
Nana: As a grandmother raising my
pre-teen grandchildren, I struggle with
ways to speak to them that bridges the generation
gap and is relevant to them. Straight
talk is best I know, but how can I seem
credible in today's environment?
Dr_Popkin> You seem pretty credible to me Nana, so I begin with
sharing from your own experience -- what you've seen with people
you know who have smoked and not smoked. Then also use examples that
are more current, like Peter Jennings and some of the non-smoking
websites on the Internet. These can help persuade your grandkids.
BriannasMom: What time is the best
time to talk to your kids about not smoking?
Dr_Popkin> Try to find a real situation. If you see someone
smoking on the street or on TV, ask your child what he thinks
about smoking. Reading or watching books and videos about
smoking at home can also be good places to start.
me turn the tables and ask all of you another question. Why
have you chosen to smoke or not?
Dr_Popkin> While you respond, I'd like to share the four steps
a good no-smoking talk should have again...
Dr_Popkin> 1. Ask questions. Don't lecture, get a dialogue going.
2. Listen non-judgmentally. Don't put your child's ideas down. 3.
Make a persuasive case. Tell then how much you love them and want
them to be healthy and strong. 4. Set the rule and consequences.
Let them know smoking is against the rules and lay out the consequences
for breaking that rule.
new_mom: I choose not to smoke because of the damaging affects it can
have on your body, not to mention the smell it gives your clothes, breath,
BriannasMom: When I was growing up, I was told that smoking can help
you lose weight. Is this true?
Dr_Popkin> Let's first not forget that there are plenty of obese
people who smoke. While some people do have a tendancy to put on
a few pounds when they stop smoking, this can usually be prevented
by chewing sugarless gum, mints or other low cal snacks.
heafay: I choose not to smoke because I am aware of the health consequences
and I am really uncomforable with the smell and taste of smoke.
Dr_Popkin> That's great. As we've discussed, these same kind of
arguments can help lead teens to choosing not to smoke as well.
My son is 16. If he stops smoking now, how long will it take
for his lungs to clear?
Dr_Popkin> I can't give you an exact answer, but the sooner a
person quits smoking, the less likely they are to die from lung cancer
or experience other smoking related illnesses.
Dr_Popkin> For example, the recent Newsweek article on Peter Jennings'
death has a graph that shows that if you stop smoking at 40, you
are half as likely to die from lung cancer as someone who never stopped.
However, you are still twice as likely to die from lung cancer as
someone who never smoked.
Dr_Popkin> I want to thank the Lorillard Tobacco Company Youth Smoking
Prevention Program for hosting this chat and continuing its commitment
to keeping kids from smoking, through this website and other programs. Through
the efforts of the Lorillard Youth Smoking Prevention Program and
other efforts, teen smoking rates are on a dramatic decline, reaching historic
lows in the latest studies. We all must remain 100 percent committed
to keeping cigarettes from our children if we are to continue this positive
trend. By participating in this chat today, you have proven your
commitment. Remember, as a parent, you are the strongest influence in your
child's life, so continue to take a strong position that you believe your
child should never smoke. Please continue to visit www.KeepKidsFromSmoking.com
for the latest tips and advice on how to start the conversations early,
and to have them often.