Teens and Smoking

They think it makes them look cool or grown up, but teens need to know the truth about the dangers of smoking -- before they ever start!
Nipping It in the Bud
Group of teens with attitude

Your teenager came home reeking of tobacco. Then, a crumpled pack of butts fell out of a pair of jeans and right into the washing machine. Even though this is a moment you have dreaded, try not to lose your cool.

Hopefully, you have done some groundwork by having said in the past -- long and loud -- that you disapprove of smoking because it can ruin a person's health. You will have to trust that the anti-smoking seed you've planted is still buried somewhere in your adolescent's nicotine-addled brain.

Smoking Stinks

Now it's time to sit down and have a serious talk. But don't start out talking about emphysema and lung cancer. Your teenager -- like every other teenager on the planet -- is Invincible, Invulnerable, and Immortal. Those kinds of things happen to old people -- not to the hip and cool.

Instead, talk about how smoking gives people smelly breath, smelly clothes, and stinky hair. Calculate how much money will be spent in a week, in a month, and in a year on cigarettes.

Also talk about the social stigma attached to smoking. Tell your son or daughter about your coworkers who have to stand out in the rain to get their mid-morning nicotine fix -- and how others snicker at them.

Next, gather together some magazine ads for cigarettes that are obviously aimed at the next generation of nicotine addicts. Point out to your teen that he or she is being manipulated -- used! -- by big business and advertising. That tactic usually puts them in high dudgeon!

Continued on page 2:  The Start of Stopping