Is your teenager smoking?

Smoking is just another of life’s temptations and one that usually rears its ugly head in front of teenagers at some point. Teenagers have a huge amount to deal with during those tough years when they have to juggle school exams, fit in around other teens and absorb the pressure to have sex, so cigarettes are just another thing to add to the list.

Teen smoking cigarette

Thankfully smoking is on the decline. However, teenagers are still experimenting with “the forbidden fruit” and nine out of 10 smokers tried their first cigarette before they were 18. Once someone starts to smoke it can be a very hard habit to break because cigarettes contain nicotine, which is extremely addictive. Here are some tips that may help if you think your teen has either started smoking or may be considering it.

Explain the physical effects of smoking on the body

Teenagers think they are invincible at their age and very rarely consider illness or mortality, which is one of the reasons they sometimes smoke without considering the consequences. By explaining to them what happens to the body if they smoke, short term and long term, you will be sowing the seed in their mind. There are numerous pictures online of damaged lungs from smoking, gruesome enough to put even the hardest of teenager off. They are probably not aware of many other effects such as impotence, infertility and low sex drive, which means sexual health and the chance of having children can be seriously impeded.

Make them aware of the unpleasant side-effects

Teenagers are more often than not very concerned about the way they look and how they come across to their peers. In your quest to put them off smoking you can use this to your advantage and try to help them understand that smoking is one of the most unattractive habits they can have. Smokers often have bad breath, yellow teeth, yellow fingernails and smelly clothing and hair. All of these can be extremely unattractive to people around them and especially the opposite sex.

Explain the financial implications of smoking

Cigarettes themselves are extremely expensive these days with the average pack of 20 costing upwards of £6.50. If a teenager smokes 20 a day, that is a very expensive habit for them to keep up and will drain all the money they could use to save for a new wardrobe, a night out or a car. Not only are the actual cigarettes pricey but life as an adult can be far more expensive for smokers. Insurance policies are far higher, private health insurance is more expensive and, on top of all that, it can be harder to get a job as employers know smokers can be unreliable health-wise.

Sometimes, telling children they cannot do something will make them want to try it even more. By giving them all the facts – as scary and unpleasant as they are – and then letting them make their own minds up is a far more effective way of encouraging them not to smoke. They will not feel pushed into a corner about the situation and will take on board the information you have given them, hopefully coming to a sensible and informed decision themselves. If your teen is already smoking and decides to give up, provide them with as much support as you can.

More on teenage behaviour

Understanding your teen’s behaviour
6 Ways to tame teen behaviour
Teen behaviour explained: 13 is the new 18


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