Bringing up the topic of tobacco use can be tough, but it’s important to talk about it—especially if you think your child may have already have tried or using other tobacco products. It’s easy to feel like your child will just brush you off and tell you to “stop worrying so much.” This, combined with the fact that bringing up the topic can be a little awkward, can make it tough to start the conversation. Fortunately, there are some ways to make broaching the subject easier.
Even though you may feel like your teen doesn’t listen to what you say, research shows that parents are a strong influence on whether teens smoke.1 Even pre-teens—who might roll their eyes when you start talking about the dangers of tobacco—are paying attention to what you say. To make sure you have the best possible influence on your child, start talking about tobacco early.
It’s easy to feel like you’re not getting through to your kids when you talk about tough issues like tobacco use. But remember that you do have an effect on their decisions and that your expectations matter to them. To help your child make smart decisions about tobacco use, bring up the topic early and talk with your children about it on a regular basis.
1. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, Malignant Neglect: Substance Abuse and America’s Schools (2001).