World No Tobacco Day is observed on 31 May each year to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and encourage people to quit smoking.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death worldwide, with approximately 8 million people dying each year due to tobacco-related illnesses.
Smoking not only harms the health of the person who smokes but also those around them, particularly children.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke can cause a range of health problems in children, including respiratory infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It can also worsen existing health conditions such as allergies and asthma.
Moreover, children who grow up in households where smoking is prevalent are more likely to become smokers themselves later in life.
Therefore, it is crucial to create smoke-free environments for children. This can be achieved by avoiding smoking around children, not allowing smoking inside the house or car, and ensuring that children are not exposed to secondhand smoke in public spaces such as parks and playgrounds.
Does your teen smoke? Help them quit!
Unfortunately, many teenagers experiment with smoking and become addicted to nicotine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five high school students smoke cigarettes.
Why do teens start smoking?
There are several reasons why teenagers may start smoking. Some may do it to fit in with their peers or rebel against authority. Others may be influenced by family members who smoke or see smoking as a way to cope with stress or boredom. Sadly, the tobacco industry heavily markets their products to young people, using tactics such as colourful packaging and social media advertising to make smoking seem cool and attractive.
Signs that your teen may be smoking
There are several signs that your teenager may be smoking, including:
- Smelling like smoke
- Increased secrecy
- Finding cigarette-related items, such as lighters, ashtrays, or cigarette butts
- Changes in behaviour, such as mood swings, irritability, or decreased appetite
- Physical changes, such as yellowing teeth, bad breath, and a persistent cough
How parents can help their teens quit smoking
If you are a parent of a teenager who smokes, there are several things you can do to help them quit.
- Have an open and honest conversation: Talk to your teenager about the dangers of smoking and why you are concerned about their health. Listen to their thoughts and feelings about smoking and offer support and encouragement.
- Encourage healthy habits: Encourage your teenager to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep. These habits can improve their overall health and make it easier to quit smoking.
- Offer support: Quitting smoking can be challenging, so offer your teenager support and encouragement. Consider seeking professional help, such as nicotine replacement therapy or counselling.
- Be a positive role model. If you are a smoker, consider quitting yourself. Your teenager is more likely to quit smoking if they see that you have successfully quit.
How parents can quit smoking
- Set a quit date: Choose a specific day to quit smoking and stick to it. It can be helpful to choose a day that has special significance, such as a birthday or anniversary.
- Make a plan: Create a plan for how you will quit smoking. This may include using nicotine replacement therapy, joining a support group, or seeking counseling.
- Identify triggers: Identify the situations or emotions that trigger your desire to smoke. This can help you prepare for them and develop strategies for coping without cigarettes.
- Remove smoking triggers: Remove any smoking triggers from your environment, such as ashtrays or cigarettes. This can help reduce the temptation to smoke.
- Get support: Quitting smoking can be challenging, so it’s essential to have support from family, friends, or a support group. Consider reaching out to a quit smoking helpline or online community.
- Reward yourself: Celebrate milestones and successes along the way. This can help keep you motivated and provide a sense of accomplishment.
- Practice self-care: Quitting smoking can be stressful, so it’s essential to practice self-care. This may include getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
Remember, quitting smoking is a process, and it may take several attempts to quit for good. It’s essential to stay positive, focused, and motivated.