10 Ways to Talk to Your Kids About Smoking

Appeal to Their Vanity

Appearance is important to kids, particularly as they enter their teen years. Take advantage of this opportune time to emphasize the effects of smoking on a person's physical appearance. Explain that smoking will give them bad breath, yellow teeth and smelly clothes. It will discolor their nails, wrinkle their skin and dry their hair [source: Mayo Clinic Staff]. It will also cause shortness of breath, which might prevent them from becoming their school's track star.

Use advertising to launch your discussion. They'll see smokers portrayed as attractive, sexy, athletic, rugged, popular and thin. Ask them what they think the advertiser wants them to think and what the strategies might be behind the advertising. Point out the distortions and teach them to be suspicious of advertising. This exercise will not only help keep them from smoking, but will increase their critical thinking skills and help build your parent-child alliance.