By Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention
The school year is in full swing and parents and children are adjusting to new schedules, after-school activities and homework.
How many parents are taking time out of busy schedules to discuss the dangers of nicotine addiction? The fact is, most adult smokers started before the age of 19, when parents can have an influence on the choices their children make.
“The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids predicts that more than 6 million children, under age 18, who are alive today, will die from smoking-related disease, unless current rates are reversed,” explains Connie Greene, vice president, Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention (IFP), which offers a statewide tobacco treatment program. “The time to talk to your kids about tobacco use is now, no matter what their age.”
Barnabas Health IFP’s Tobacco Treatment Specialists offers these tips to parents to help start the conversation.
• Be aware of opportunities to start the conversation — when driving to sports practice, after school or watching TV, especially if there is an anti-tobacco commercial.
• Help your child say “no” to tobacco use by discussing ways they can handle situations when peers are smoking or using tobacco products. Your child’s school counselor is a good resource for tips.
• Avoid the temptation to lecture, instead ask questions.
Age appropriate questions that can lead to good discussions include:
• For ages 6-8: What have they taught you in school about the dangers of smoking?
• For ages 9-11: Why do you think some teens smoke even though they know it’s bad for them?
• For ages 12-15: What do you think when you see kids smoking?
Parents have more influence on their children than anything or anyone else, so set a good example by not using tobacco products when with your children.
The Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention has been providing services for at-risk children and their families as well as training programs for individuals, agencies and corporations for close to 20 years. Barnabas Health is the state’s largest integrated health-care delivery system. It includes Monmouth Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.