Here are some things you can do to help your children avoid the dangers of smoking:
* Talk with your children about the health effects of smoking. Giving examples of family members or friends who have suffered from smoking-related illnesses can make the effects of smoking seem more real.
* Keep the lines of communication open. Develop a trusting and comfortable relationship with your children, so you can talk honestly about important issues such as smoking. This includes being a good listener. When your children feel comfortable talking with you, they will be more likely to tell you if they've started smoking or are being pressured to smoke.
* Spend quality time with your children. Eating meals together is a great way to relax and talk about the day. Did you know that children whose families eat together at least five times a week are less likely to be involved with drugs and alcohol?
* Get to know your children's friends and how your children are spending their time. This will help you know when to step in and give your children guidance and support.
* Teach your children how to say NO to tobacco. Every day, your children may be faced with opportunities to use tobacco. Talk with them about ways they can tell their friends that they don't want to smoke.
* Be a good role model—don't smoke and quit if you do! Teens who have smoking parents are more likely to smoke themselves. What you do affects your children more than you might think.
* Set rules and stick by them. Set curfews, which can help kids handle peer pressure to smoke.
* Praise your children regularly and show affection. This will help your children to believe in themselves and feel good about who they are.
* Talk to your children about smoking in the media. Smoking may look cool in movies or in advertisements, but the media doesn’t tell the whole story. They don’t show the health problems or the yellow teeth, smelly breath, and wrinkled skin caused by smoking.
* Support tax hikes on cigarettes. A high price for cigarettes may be the most effective way to prevent teens from becoming regular smokers. One study found that a 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes would decrease the number of children who started smoking by 3 to 10 percent.
* Encourage your state to start a tobacco control program. Such a program should include school classes at every grade level about the dangers of smoking, programs to help teens quit smoking, and enforcing the laws that prevent stores from selling tobacco to teens. It should also include an anti-tobacco media campaign for teens that shows how the tobacco industry targets them as potential smokers. When Florida adopted a tobacco control program with all these elements, smoking rates dropped by 47 percent among middle school students and 30 percent among high school students.