Health Watch -- Keep Kids from Smoking

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Kids and smoking – the problem that won’t go away.

Between peer pressure and marketing targeted toward young people, it may be difficult for some teens to resist cigarettes. Although tobacco companies do some anti-smoking public service announcements, they also know that by making smoking appealing to children and adolescents, they can make these young people become lifetime smokers.

Unfortunately, once you start smoking, it’s a real challenge to quit. Dr. Adi Gazdar, a lung cancer expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, says that the nicotine found in cigarettes is one of the most addictive substances known. It may even be more addictive than cocaine. That makes quitting smoking more difficult than many people realize when they try their first cigarette.


What’s the easiest way to keep kids from smoking?

The best way to avoid a lifelong smoking habit is never to start, and that’s where Dr. Gazdar says parents play such an important role. Children whose parents both smoke are themselves most likely to smoke. Meanwhile, only 14 percent of high school seniors whose parents don’t smoke become smokers.

In other words, even if your children don’t listen to what you say, they do pay attention to what you do. Research shows that parents who quit smoking while their children are young can dramatically reduce the chances that their children will become smokers.

If your own health isn’t enough incentive for you to break the habit, perhaps your children’s health may give you the boost you need to quit for good.