You can make a difference!
1. Don’t assume kids will learn all they need to know to be tobacco free at school and that you don’t need to get involved. Parents can help their kids to avoid the use of tobacco.
2. Let them know how you feel about tobacco use and help them develop the skills to say no to tobacco.
3. Kids do listen. They may feel a need to rebel at first but they will value the message, especially coming from you.
4. Make an emotional appeal – telling them how hurt or disappointed you would be by their smoking or chewing will have more impact than reasoning with them about the health dangers.
5. Know that peer pressure is often used as an excuse for tobacco use – it may provide an opportunity to start, but kids continue to smoke or chew for individual reasons.
6. Be a good role model – if you do smoke or chew, explain that you know it’s wrong and ask them to help you quit. If you aren’t ready to quit, share the reasons why you started, how hard it’s been to quit, and how you don’t want them to struggle with the same addiction you have.
7. Encourage your children to never try tobacco. It may only take a few cigarettes to become addicted. Instead, encourage them to develop healthy lifestyles and avoid the use of tobacco.
8. Have extended family support to keep kids tobacco free – often older siblings or other relatives introduce them to smoking or chewing.
9. Don’t believe that smoking or chewing is safer than “something else” – most kids are at real and greater risk from tobacco use than from other dangers. Research shows smoking is a gateway to other drug use.
10. It’s never too late to intervene. Kids are flexible and they can change for the right reasons.
In this article, as in most public health messaging, “tobacco” is short for commercial tobacco products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Using these is highly addictive and is a leading cause of disease and premature death. However, Northern Health recognizes that natural tobacco has been an integral part of many Indigenous cultures in B.C. for thousands of years. Traditional uses of tobacco in ritual, ceremony, and prayer is entirely different from smoking or chewing commercial tobacco. Northern Health supports the cultural and ceremonial uses of tobacco and recognizes that the benefits of traditional uses can outweigh the potential harms.
About Nancy Viney
Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.