Teenagers of the 1950s had the oh-so-cool screen images of a cigarette-puffing James Dean to emulate. But these days, portrayals of teen smoking (even adult smoking) have been wiped from pop culture mediums. The anti-smoking campaigns of the past several decades have helped curb the glamorization of the habit, and cigarette use among teens dropped drastically as the 21st century began [source: Hendrick]. Despite those positive trends, nearly 20 percent of today's high school students smoke [source: Hendrick]. In addition, smokeless tobacco use -- dip, snuff and chewing tobacco -- is on the rise among teens [source: Smith].
At this point, the dangers of tobacco are well known. In case you need a refresher, however, be aware that it puts your teen at risk for lung cancer, oral cancer, exacerbated asthma attacks and chronic bronchitis. And as your son or daughter ages, smoking will increase his or her odds of developing any number of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses.
The threat of long-term health problems may not be enough to motivate teens to stop smoking. So in addition, you can explain to your son or daughter some of the more superficial effects it has. For instance, you might remind them that most teens won't date smokers [source: American Academy of Pediatrics]. If your teenager wants to quit but is having trouble, a great resource is the U.S. Government's Teen Smokefree TxT, which can text smoking cessation support to a teen's cell phone.
Ready to have that talk with your teen? Look for other great resources on the next page.