5 Truths About Teen Smoking

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Parents often feel powerless against the tough issues teens face because they cannot control their teen's choices. While it is true that teens need to make their own choices, parents do have more influence than they think. Read through these five truths on teen smoking to become empowered about a tough choice your teen is facing every day.

Truth #1: Anyone's teen can start smoking.

Every day in the United States, more than 3,000 young people become regular smokers-that's more than one million new smokers a year. The pull to smoke is not just affecting someone else's kid. Your teen sees the glamorous advertising, has peers who smoke and is as vulnerable to becoming a smoker as much as anybody else's teen. And yes, teens who play sports and are considered 'good kids' smoke too.

Related Resources:
Screening Quiz: Is your teen smoking?

FAQ: Why Do Teens Start to Smoke?

Truth #2: Nearly all first time smoking happens before high school graduation.

That's according to the Center for Disease Control. If your teen hasn't started smoking before he/she graduates, chances are he/she never will. That's good news. It means that you have the time to influence your teen and their choices.

Related Resources:
Teen Smoking: What Can Parents Do?
FAQ: Does raising the cost of cigarettes keep teens from smoking?

Truth #3: Actively working on your teen's self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience can prevent your teen from smoking.

 Often, teens cite 'being accepted' as a reason for starting to smoke, along with modeling someone they admire, to loose weight or to overcome stress. Help your teen develop friendships, shape a healthy body image and deal with stress without having to turn to tobacco use.

Related Resources:
4 Reasons Your Teen Needs a Hobby
Learn to Build Your Teen's Self-Esteem
5 Factors That Contribute to Raising Resilient Teens

Truth #4: Your teen needs to hear that smoking is bad for him/her from you.

While your teen's friends may seem to be more important to your teen, you are his/her number one choice to learn about values. This is the time to make it count. Send a clear message to your teen that you consider smoking to be unhealthy. Be sure to do this with facts and try not to use scare tactics that will only backfire.

Related Resources:
How to Talk to Your Teen About Smoking

FAQ: Is tobacco a gateway drug?

Truth #5: If your teen smokes, he/she can't quit just because you've asked.

According to American Cancer Society, "the best school health classes won't have much effect on the students who already smoke, unless those teens are also offered professional help to quit." Teens — heck, even most adults — do not realize they are addicted until it's too late. Among adolescents aged 10 - 18, about three-fourths of daily cigarette smokers report that they continue to use tobacco because of how difficult it is to quit, not because of how much they enjoy the nicotine. Your teen needs to team up with you and a doctor in order to kick this nasty habit.

It is worth your time and money to help your teen get through this problem.

Related Resources:
FAQ: Why Don't Teens Quit Smoking?
FAQ: How can I help my teen quit smoking?


  • Journal of the American Medical Association 1989, Vol. 261, pp. 61-65.
  • Center for Disease Control.
  • American Cancer Society.

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