While the prospect of youth starting to smoke is concerning, there’s some great news from the 2012-13 Youth Smoking Survey. The percentage of Canadian youth who currently smoke and the percentage of youth in British Columbia who have ever tried a cigarette have both declined.
Unfortunately, some youth will start using tobacco. Teachers play an important role in educating students about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
If you’re a teacher, when you talk about tobacco, remember the following:
- Start talking about tobacco early in the school year. Don’t wait until it becomes a problem on the school grounds before addressing it. Ensure that your school has a clear policy on tobacco and that it’s clearly communicated.
- Speak to your students as intelligent people who can make good decisions. Don’t speak down to them or try to intimidate them into not using tobacco – rather than starting a genuine conversation around tobacco, this is more likely to create barriers.
- Don’t make assumptions about how much your students know about tobacco. Most students are likely aware that tobacco is harmful, but might underestimate the health risks or long-term consequences of tobacco use. Be creative and engage your students in exploring the harms of tobacco use. Use a biology class to look at what using tobacco does to the body. Explore other alternatives for dealing with things like peer pressure or stress as part of a social studies class.
According to the Youth Smoking Survey, the average age a young person tries a cigarette is 13.6 years old. As a teacher, you are at the right place and in the right time to address it!
About Reg Wulff
Reg is a licensing officer with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace as well as a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out, and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.