By: Becky Post
Parents can greatly influence their children’s decisions around tobacco use. To help kids make healthy choices about tobacco use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following tips in Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults.
- the facts about tobacco
- that you don’t want anyone—including them—to use tobacco in your car or home
- that you expect them to never use tobacco, or to stop using it
- cope with their problems
- refuse tobacco
- quit if they current users
Make sure that you
- know what your kids are doing and who their friends are
- network with other parents who can help you encourage kids to refuse tobacco
- encourage your children’s school to enforce tobacco-free policies for students, faculty, and staff
- never give tobacco to children or teens
- set a good example by not using tobacco yourself
It’s important to prevent adolescent’s use of tobacco, because the younger a smoker is, the more likely he or she is to become addicted, according to the CDC. Keep in mind that nearly 90 percent of adult smokers in the U.S. began smoking by age 18.
The CDC reports the following statistics, based on the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey:
- One out of four high school seniors and one out of three young adults under age 26 are smokers.
- The prevalence of tobacco use among middle and high school students is 6.7 percent and 23.3 percent respectively.
- After cigarettes, cigars are the second most commonly used product. Cigar use has increased among non-Hispanic black high school students from 11.7 percent to 16.7 percent.
- From 2011 to 2012, electronic cigarette use jumped from .6 percent to 1.1 percent with middle school kids, and from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent with high school kids.
In 2011, the CDC began collecting data on tobacco products other than cigarettes. High school students reported the following rates of use among these commonly-used forms of tobacco:
- cigarettes, 14 percent
- cigars, 12.6 percent
- smokeless tobacco, 6.4 percent
- hookahs, 5.4 percent
- pipes, 4.5 percent,
- electronic cigarettes, 2.8 percent
- snus (similar to dip or chew), 2.5 percent
- kreteks (similar to clove cigarettes), 1.0 percent
- dissolvable tobacco (forms include tablets, strips, and sticks), .8 percent
The CDC reports that young people’s increased use of electronic cigarette and hookah tobacco can be blamed on lower prices and increased marketing, availability, and visibility of these products. Furthermore, there is a perception that these nontraditional products are “safer” than cigarettes.
And don’t forget, most youth who use smokeless products also smoke cigarettes. The biggest danger of these products is that they introduce kids to nicotine—and that puts them at risk to become addicted.
Rebecca Post is the director of content development at Search Institute. She has worked as a book editor for most of her career. She and her husband are successfully surviving the empty nest, now that their only child is in college.