10 Questions Kids Might Ask Their Parents About Smoking

I'm already a smoker, how can I quit?
It's tempting to punish your child for smoking, but it's important to show them you respect them for telling you the truth.
It's tempting to punish your child for smoking, but it's important to show them you respect them for telling you the truth.

One of the more difficult conversations you can have with a child is after they admit to you that they have started smoking. It's tempting in a situation like this to blow up and punish the child for going against your rules. But it's important to show your child that you respect and admire them for coming out and telling the truth. So don't focus on punishment, but instead on ways to get through quitting together [source: Dowshen]. If they're serious about quitting, the difficulties of that process are often punishment enough.

Pediatricians can offer help quitting smoking. They can offer prescriptions for smoking cessation drugs, or give advice on whether to use patches, gum, lozenges or other quitting aids. They can also talk your child through the process, if you would feel more comfortable relying on a professional [source: McCoy]. Try to be supportive during the quitting process. Here are a few tips to pass along to your child:

  • Have your child write down reasons for quitting. Remind them to look over the list when it gets tough. Teach them to breathe deeply and concentrate on positive thinking during cravings, which will only last a few minutes at a time, and a few weeks total.
  • Show them how they can use things like carrot sticks and gum to help satisfy the oral fixations.
  • Even if your child slips up, don't blow up at them. Try to stay supportive and encourage them to get back to quitting immediately [source: Mayo Clinic].

Lots More Information

More Great Links


  • Abel, Katy. "Stamping Out Teen Smoking." Family Education. (April 26, 2011) http://life.familyeducation.com/teen/smoking/29739.html
  • American Heart Association. "Nicotine Addiction." (April 26, 2011) http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4753
  • American Lung Association. "Tips for Parents." (April 27, 2011) http://www.lungusa.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/preventing-smoking/for-parents.html 
  • Brant County Health Unit. "Talking to Your Kids About Smoking." http://www.bchu.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=942&Itemid=290
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking." March 21, 2011. (April 27, 2011) http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Tobacco Control State Highlights, 2010." 2010. (April 27, 2010) http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/state_data/state_highlights/2010/pdfs/highlights2010.pdf
  • Cigna. "Talking to Your Kids About Smoking." 2008. (April 27, 2011) http://www.cignabehavioral.com/web/basicsite/bulletinBoard/kickButtsDay.jsp
  • Dowshen, Steven. "Kids and Smoking." KidsHealth. November 2010. (April 27, 2011) http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/smoking.html
  • Dowshen, Steven. "Smokeless Tobacco." Nemours. July 2008. (April 28, 2011) http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/tobacco/smokeless.html
  • Espat, Adelina. "Get the Facts: How to Talk to Kids About Tobacco and Alcohol." MD Anderson Cancer Center. Nov. 2009. (April 27, 2011) http://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/issues/2009-november/get-the-facts-how-to-talk-to-kids-about-tobacco-and-alcohol.htm
  • Health Canada. "Tips for Keeping Young Children Smoke Free." (April 27, 2011) http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/quit-cesser/kids-enfants/children-enfants-eng.php
  • Katz, Neil. "Electronic Cigarettes to be Regulated like Real Cigarettes." CBS News. April 26, 2011. (April 28, 2011) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20057403-10391704.html
  • Lloyd, Robin. "Study Links Candy Cigarettes to Smoking." Associated Press. June 18, 2007. (April 26, 2011) http://www.livescience.com/1635-study-links-candy-cigarettes-smoking.html
  • Mayo Clinic. "Chewing tobacco: Not a safe alternative to cigarettes." (April 27, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chewing-tobacco/CA00019
  • Mayo Clinic. "Teen Smoking: How to Help Your Teen Quit." (April 26, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/teen-smoking/TN00016
  • McCoy, Krisha. "Talking to Kids About Smoking." Everyday Health. March 9, 2009. (April 27, 2011) http://www.everydayhealth.com/lung-cancer/talking-to-kids-about-tobacco.aspx
  • National Cancer Institute. "Answers About Menthol." Smokefree.gov. (April 26, 2011) http://www.smokefree.gov/tob-menthol.aspx
  • National Health Information Center. "Talk to Your Kids About Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs." March 13, 2011. (April 27, 2011) http://www.healthfinder.gov/prevention/PrintTopic.aspx?topicId=65
  • Reinberg, Steven. "Today's Smokers More Addicted to Nicotine." U.S. News and World Report. Oct. 28, 2008. (April 26, 2011) http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/articles/2008/10/28/todays-smokers-more-addicted-to-nicotine
  • Sohn, Emily. "How Safe are E-cigarettes?" Discovery News. Jan. 26, 2011. (April 28, 2011) http://news.discovery.com/human/e-cigarettes-health-nicotine-tobacco-110127.html
  • Steenhuysen, Julie. "Menthol Cigarettes No More Risky, Study Suggests." Reuters. March 23, 2011. (April 26, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/23/us-tobacco-menthol-idUSTRE72M88M20110323
  • University of Minnesota. "Nicotine Addiction." 2003. (April 26, 2011) http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html
  • U.S. Surgeon General. "Youth and Tobacco: Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People." 1994. (April 27, 2011) http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/1994/index.htm


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