Articles for Parents
All Family Resources
Alphabetical List
  1. Children and Divorce
  2. Teenagers with Eating Disorders
  3. Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  4. The Depressed Child
  5. Child Abuse - The Hidden Bruises
  6. Children Who Can't Pay Attention
  7. Children Who Won't Go to School
  8. Children and Grief
  9. Child Sexual Abuse
  10. Teen Suicide
  11. The Child with Autism
  12. Children Who Steal
  13. Children and TV Violence
  14. Children and Family Moves
  15. The Adopted Child
  16. Children with Learning Disabilities
  17. Children of Alcoholics
  18. Bedwetting
  19. The Child with a Long-Term Illness
  20. Making Day Care a Good Experience
  21. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part I: How Medications Are Used
  22. Normality
  23. Mental Retardation
  24. Know When to Seek Help for Your Child
  25. Who can be contacted to seek Help for Your Child
  26. Know Your Health Insurance Benefits
  27. Stepfamily Problems
  28. Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
  29. Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents Part II: Types of Medications
  30. Children and AIDS
  31. When Children Have Children
  32. 11 Questions to Ask Before Psychiatric Hospital Treatment of Children and Adolescents
  33. Conduct Disorders
  34. Children's Sleep Problems
  35. Tic Disorders
  36. Helping Children After a Disaster
  37. Children and Firearms
  38. Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness) in Teens
  39. Children of Parents with Mental Illness
  40. The Influence of Music and Music Videos
  41. Substance Abuse Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Questions to Ask
  42. The Continuum of Care
  43. Discipline
  44. Children and Lying
  45. Lead Exposure
  46. Home Alone Children
  47. The Anxious Child
  48. Problems with Soiling and Bowel Control
  49. Schizophrenia in Children
  50. Panic Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  51. Psychiatric Medications for Children and Adolescents Part III: Questions to Ask
  52. Comprehensive Psychiatric Evaluation
  53. What is Psychotherapy For Children and Adolescents?
  54. Children and Watching TV
  55. Understanding Violent Behavior in Children & Adolescents
  56. Parenting: Preparing for Adolescence
  57. Normal Adolescent Development - Middle School and Early High School Years
  58. Normal Adolescent Development - Late High School Years and Beyond
  59. Children Online
  60. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  61. Children and Sports
  62. Talking to Your Kids About Sex
  63. Gay And Lesbian Adolescents
  64. Foster Care
  65. Children's Threats: When are they serious? 
  66. Helping Teenagers with Stress
  67. Children and The News
  68. Tobacco and Kids
  69. Asperger's Disorder
  70. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  71. Multiracial Children
  72. Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  73. Self-Injury in Adolescents
  74. Advocating for Your Child
  75. Pets and Children
  76. Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver
  77. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
  78. When a Pet Dies
  79. Obesity in Children and Teens
  80. Bullying #80

Children's addiction to nicotine from cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco (chew), and cigars is a major public health problem.

The Facts about teen smoking:

  • Nearly 3 million U.S. teenagers smoke.
  • Approximately 3,000 teenagers start smoking every day and one-third of them will die prematurely of a smoking related disease (American Cancer Society).
  • High school students who smoke cigarettes are more likely to take risks such as ignoring seat belts, getting into physical fights, carrying weapons, and having sex at an earlier age.
  • Tobacco is considered to be a "gateway drug" which may lead to alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drug use.
  • Most adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18.
  • Tobacco use continues to be the most common cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
  • Cigarette smoking and tobacco use are associated with many forms of cancer.
  • Smoking is the main cause of lung and heart disease.
  • Smoking worsens existing medical problems, such as asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • The earlier a person starts smoking, the greater the risk to his or her health and the harder it is to quit.
Children at MOST risk for Tobacco use:
  • have parents, siblings, or friends who smoke
  • exhibit characteristics such as toughness and acting grown up
  • deny the harmful effects of tobacco
  • have fewer coping skills and smoke to alleviate stress
  • have poor self esteem and depression
  • have poor academic performance, especially girls
  • are very influenced by advertisements that relate cigarette smoking to being thin and/or suffer from eating disorders
What Parents can do to prevent Tobacco use:
  • Parents are role models. If you smoke, quit. If you have not quit, do not smoke in front of your children and tell them you regret that you started.
  • Do not allow smoking in your home and strictly enforce your No Smoking rule.
  • Ask whether tobacco is discussed in school.
  • Ask about tobacco use by friends; compliment children who do not smoke.
  • Do not allow your children to handle smoking materials.
  • Do not allow your children to play with candy cigarettes. They are symbols of real cigarettes, and young children who use them may be more likely to smoke.
  • Support school and community anti-smoking efforts and tell school officials you expect them to enforce no smoking policies.
  • Make tobacco less readily available to children and teens—support higher taxes on tobacco, licensing of vendors, and bans on unattended vending machines.
  • Discuss with your children the false and misleading images used in advertising and movies which portray smoking as glamorous, healthy, sexy, and mature.
  • Emphasize the short-term negative effects such as bad breath, yellowed fingers, smelly clothes, shortness of breath, and decreased performance in sports.
  • Emphasize that nicotine is addictive.
  • Help children to say "No" to tobacco by role playing situations in which tobacco is offered by peers.
If your child or teen has already begun to use tobacco, the following steps can help him or her to stop:
  • Advise him/her to stop. Be non-confrontational, supportive, and respectful.
  • Assist his/her efforts to quit and express your desire to help.
  • Provide educational materials.
  • Help your youngster identify personally relevant reasons to quit.
  • If you smoke, agree to quit with your child and negotiate a quit date.
  • Enlist the child's pediatrician or family physician to help the child stop smoking.
  • If the child is abusing other drugs and/or alcohol or there are problems with mood or other disorders, evaluation by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional may be indicated.

For more information see Facts for Families #2 "Teenagers with Eating Disorders," #3 "Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs," #4 "The Depressed Child," #6 "Children Who Can't Pay Attention," #33 "Conduct Disorders," and #66 "Managing Stress."

Article #68 Updated 4/99

All Family Resources wishes to thank the (AACAP) for giving us permission to use this article.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 6,900 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.

Facts for Families© is developed and distributed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale. To order full sets of FFF, contact Public Information, 1.800.333.7636.  Free distribution of individual Facts sheets is a public service of the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund. Please make a tax deductible contribution to the AACAP Special Friends of Children Fund and support this important public outreach. (AACAP, Special Friends of Children Fund, P.O. Box 96106, Washington, D.C. 20090).
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