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Will your child smoke?
10 questions for parents

Every day, approximately 4,000 kids between ages 12 and 17 take their first puff on a cigarette. Nearly 1,300 of them will become regular smokers and half of them will die from their habit. Will your child be one of them? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you smoke? Kids whose parents smoke have an increased risk of using tobacco. To lower that chance, explain to your child that you made a mistake when you started to smoke. Then quit.
  • If you smoke, do you talk with your child about the consequences? Children of smokers tend to be more impulsive, which may lead to smoking. Try emphasizing the short-term effects (coughing, throat irritation) to convince kids to avoid lighting up.
  • Did you begin smoking at a young age? Adolescents are at the greatest risk when their parents lit up at an early age.
  • Did you smoke in the past? Parents who quit by the time their kids are 8 or 9 significantly reduce their children’s odds of smoking.
  • Does your child spend time with smokers? Kids who hang around with peers or siblings who smoke are at greater risk.
  • Does your child have access to cigarettes? Children who can find cigarettes easily are at an increased risk of becoming smokers.
  • Does your child watch TV or movies with smoking? Teenagers exposed to the greatest amount of smoking in movies are nearly three times more likely to start than teens who watched movies with less smoking.
  • Do you enforce no-smoking rules? Children who grow up in homes with antismoking rules are less likely to smoke than those whose parents don’t practice these actions.
  • Are there smoke-free laws in your town? Kids who live in towns with strong smoke-free laws are less likely to become smokers.
  • Has your child already started smoking? Most adolescents who’ve smoked at least 100 cigarettes are already addicted. Call the National Cancer Institute for help at (877) 44U-QUIT.


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