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For Parents

Nearly every adult who smokes started smoking as a teen, many before age 14. More than 400,000 kids under the age of 18 become daily smokers in the U.S. every year. And even though it's illegal for kids to buy cigarettes under the age of 18 in Virginia, most kids who smoke get their cigarettes from friends and family members, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Experts recommend that you can arm your kids against peer pressure to smoke by role-playing scenarios with them, and showing them how they can turn down cigarettes. Help your kids develop a strong self image that is resistant to pressure. Let them know they're too cool to smoke and that only kids who are desperate to fit in would do such an uncool thing. Talk to your kids truthfully about the dangers of smoking. If a family member suffers from a tobacco-related illness, use it as an opportunity to talk about the risks of using tobacco products.


Parents. The Anti Drug: National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign site for parents

Parents who smoke

Even if you're a parent who smokes, you can still talk to your kids about why they shouldn't smoke. Better than anyone else, you should know the reasons why your kids shouldn't be smoking. Tell your kids how easy it is to become addicted to using tobacco products, about how expensive it is, the social downsides, the health risks and why smoking is the wrong choice to make.

Secondhand Smoke and Kids

Secondhand smoke increases the incidence of childhood asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. Every year, 280 children nationwide die from respiratory illnesses caused by secondhand smoke. Studies rank secondhand smoke as the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., after active smoking and alcohol use, with 53,000 deaths annually. Secondhand smoke is also harmful to pets.

There are many ways to quit smoking. Some resources are below. In addition to nicotine patch systems, there are also prescription drugs that aid in smoking cessation such as Chantix and Bupropion. Below are some places where you can get more information on how to quit.

Resources for Quitting

Quit Now Virginia: 1-800-QUIT-NOW

Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids: Web resources for quitting smoking

Great American Smokeout: American Cancer Society’s annual cessation event

American Cancer Society: Kick the Habit