Part IV. Smoking Dangers: Lifting the "Smoke Screens"
Smoking IS hazardous to your health. The Surgeon General definitely knows this now. He knew it in the 60’s and 70’s too, when the label read, “The Surgeon General warns that cigarette smoking MAY be dangerous to your health,” but it was not conclusive. Now it is. So sure are the powers that be regarding this fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put on their website: Smoking Causes Death. You can’t be more direct than that!
For a long time, the tobacco companies survived, despite the emerging evidence of its devastating effects. But slowly but surely, as various lawsuits emerged in which young boys under 17 had used tobacco products and developed mouth and throat cancer, and other maladies, the tobacco industry began to suffer a blow.
In addition to the more obvious risks, such as lung cancer, throat and mouth cancer, and heart disease, smoking also causes a host of other problems such as: coronary heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, other types of lung diseases, such as emphysema, and many more.
Then there are the diseases which are believed to be linked to cigarette smoking and nicotine consumption but which cannot be completely proven, such as: Infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and even SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) among infants!
Important Information for Parents
So we know the dangers. How can we teach kids to stay away from this dangerous and highly addictive drug?
First, the legal facts: Smoking is illegal until a child reaches the age of 18. Then they may choose to smoke without legal penalties. But many underage kids “try out smoking” with friends or others. The legal warning is clear: There are criminal and civil penalties which can be imposed upon adults who offer nicotine to kids under 18.But once a kid reaches the age of 18, they may choose for themselves.
The best thing parents can do to get their kid to choose NOT to smoke is to remind them of the real dangers, tell them that smoking is no longer “cool,” and remind them of how it will damage their health, put them at risk, age them prematurely, and other factors. If this doesn’t do the trick, there are plenty of disturbing videos and images on You Tube and other sites for you to show them.
Regarding the influence of friends, here are some of the possible “lies” friends will tell them when they are trying to get your child to start smoking:
Adressing Common Myths:
- “It’s cool to smoke.”
- “Everyone’s doing it.”
- “It will make you popular.”
- “It won’t harm your health.”
- “You can’t get addicted to it.”
- “It’s ok to smoke under the legal age, as long as you don’t get caught.”
There are plenty of other reasons given to indulge in this harmful substance, not only by kids, but by stores, ad agencies, and the tobacco industry itself, which carry the message, “Just do it.”
Smoking is Out
But the age of the smoker is out. Smokers are all being asked to leave and smoke outside, not only in restaurants but also in stores, public facilities, and various other locations. People have finally removed the “smoke screens” and started to realize just how much damage it will do. Sure, everyone knows someone who is 85 years old and never had any “effects” from it-at least they don’t think they did. But a quick lung scan and a look at their cardiovascular health will tell a different story. And even if a few “get away with it,” examples do not prove the rule is wrong. Smoking IS hazardous to your health.
Teach your children to read the facts and make wise choices about consuming this toxic substance. Teach them pride in taking care of their bodies, so that they can live a full and rich life beyond their youth into adulthood.
If you start early to enforce these ideas of self-esteem and self-care, that will be one less lesson you will have to teach in the long run!