The Risks | Friendly
Advice | Answering Tough Questions
Even though teens may not be motivated by what may or
may not happen to them in 30 years, it is still useful
to talk about the health issues smoking can cause. Keep
in mind that the more graphic your argument, the more
emotionally powerful it will become. A few of the risks
- Heart disease
- Gum disease
- Throat disease
- Lung cancer
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic coughing
In addition to the health risks, you can also address
the many “yuck” factors of smoking. By turning
“smoking is cool” into “smoking is
yucky”, you will help build your child’s
resistance to trying cigarettes.
- Smoking causes bad breath, yellow teeth, and increases
the risk of gum disease and tooth loss
- Smoking makes your hair, clothes, car and house
- Smoking dulls your taste buds and sense of smell
- Smoking causes chronic coughing, increased phlegm
- Smoking can wreck your health and your looks
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If you have a friend or relative who is suffering from
a tobacco-related illness, see if they will talk with
your child about smoking and how it has negatively impacted
their lives. Chances are the patient will appreciate
the opportunity to use their mistake to help someone
else avoid what they are going through.
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Answering Tough Questions
Your job as a parent is to ask tough questions.
But don’t be surprised when your children ask
them of you too.
Q: If smoking is so bad for you, why do you smoke?
This is a tough question because it speaks directly
to your credibility.
A 1: You’re right. I’ll make a deal with
you. If I promise to quit, you promise to never start.
A 2: The sneaky thing about smoking is this: When you
start, you think you can quit at anytime. But I can
tell you that it’s a hard habit to give up. It’s
easier to never start. I wish I never would have.
Q: Why are you making such a big deal about this? It’s
not like I’m doing drugs.
A: Tobacco can be just as lethal as anything out there.
I’m making a big deal out of this because I love
you and don’t want you to be one of the 4 million
teens who will eventually die from tobacco-related illnesses.
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The more your child knows about tobacco, the less likely
they are to consider ever trying their first cigarette.
Take the time to encourage them to research the negative
effects of smoking and to write and deliver a report
on the subject.
Use stories and metaphors to create an “a-ha”
moment that your child will never forget.
Role-play with your child so they get used to saying
no to smoking. Use various scenarios that encourage
your child to find creative ways to not give in to peer
Role play situation #1:
Parent: Let’s pretend that I’m one of your
friends and we’ve been doing something together
outside and have just taken a break. As we sit down,
I pull out a pack of cigarettes and light one up. I
take a puff and then say to you, “Here, try some
of this.” What do you say?
Parent: Aw, it’s only a cigarette. It’s
not like heroin or something.
Parent: Suit yourself, but I think you’re making
a big deal out of nothing.
Role play situation #2:
Parent: Let’s pretend that you are with a new
group of kids who you think are really cool. You are
all sitting around by yourselves when they take out
cigarettes and start lighting up. One of them says,
“Don’t you smoke?” What do you say?
Parent: Sorry, I didn’t’ know you were
a goody goody. I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble
with your mama. [Said tauntingly.]
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