There comes a time in a parent's life where they frequently come across jargon like ‘smoke’, ‘butt’, ‘bidi’, ‘cigs’, ‘shisha’; which are actually street names for tobacco. And parents should worry, since what turns into a lifelong addiction for many often starts in their teenage. This huge problem normally starts with just one tiny ‘try’ – just one drag of a cigarette. Smoking or tobacco consumption, if not stopped at the very beginning, can develop into a habit that is extremely hazardous for a teenager’s psychological and biological health. On World No Tobacco Day 2013 find out how can you, as a parent, educator or caregiver, can play your part in preventing teens from smoking tobacco.
The best approach to avoid any catastrophe is to stop it from happening, which can only be achieved by minimizing the risks. Teenagers should be taught about the hazards of smoking at an early age. Health researchers have found that teenagers who indulge in smoking tobacco before the age of 14 are most likely to become dependent on it as compared to individuals who take up smoking later in life. Therefore, delaying tobacco use is the best way of preventioning a long term addcition.
There are other multiple risk factors which can be controlled to reduce or delay the onset of smoking among teenagers.
1. Family effort
Proactive parenting can play a major role in delaying teenager’s experimentation with smoking tobacco. This World No Tobacco Day, make a pact to control and minimize every risk factor at home, which may trigger your teen to take up smoking.
- Make your home environment stress free
- Maintain a direct and steady flow of communication with your teens
- Engage in your teen’s life; academic and outdoor
- Don’t lecture but interact one-on-one, with your child to explain teenage smoking health risks
- Dig out stories from popular culture to discourage your teens from smoking tobacco
- Be an example and not preacher. Quit smoking tobacco, if you do
It is the responsibility of the school management to include special programs in their curriculum that teach hazards of substance abuse, including alcohol, drugs and tobacco. They should organize events on special days like World No Tobacco Day to make the teenagers aware of the importance of healthy living and the hazards of tobacco smoking or chewing. Most importantly, school management should keep a strict check on the use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco in school premises.
3. Community responsibility
On a community level, there should be vigilant programs and teams that would check on any suspicious activity or people in the community. Similarly, if they catch their neighbor’s teen smoking tobacco with friends, their first step should be to inform the parents. A positive involvement of the community can go a long way in keeping teens away from bad habits.
Don’t fret if you find out that your child has already started smoking tobacco. There are things you can do to ensure that your teen quits, and quits immediately. Remember that this is not a simple process. The Centre for Disease and Prevention (CDC) offer the following suggestions to parents:
- Never threaten your child or give warnings. This is the time to understand your teen and gain his confidence to know what forms of tobacco he has been smoking
- Show keen interest in your child’s life and activities – without being pushy – so that you can help them quit smoking
- If your smoking has influenced your child’s, then quit smoking. Make a personal effort to understand your teen’s reasons and work together towards getting rid of this habit
- Prepare yourself for your teen’s mood swings that are result of nicotine withdrawal. Your support and patience will help the child to keep his resolve and pass through this difficult phase
- Discuss with your teen the reasons he wants to quit smoking. Keep a diary of those reasons and subsequent changes; so that you can remind your child if he relapses
- Celebrate the day your teen quits smoking. Make it a family event, to make the child feel special
Smoking tobacco can become addictive later in life, if the habit is not dealt within the early years of teenage. Therefore, parents need to be extra vigilant.