According to a 2005 study done by Arizona State University and printed in the “Journal of Pediatric Psychiatry,” a parent’s attitude about smoking plays a factor in whether a child smokes. A lack of supervision, poor emotional bonds and smoking in front of a child increases his risk of smoking. You should never smoke in front of a child, or he may feel as though smoking is a normal behavior.

  1. Stay Calm.  Explain the health problems that can result; lung cancer; mouth and gum cancer; yellowing of the teeth; don’t forget to mention how bad the clothes, hair and breath smell after smoking.  You have to explain that it is NOT cool, and that peer pressure is the worst possible reason for taking up this dangerous and nasty habit.  For boys, explain what smoking has the potential to do — including impotence.
  2. Beatings Don’t Work.  Any parent who has experienced this will tell you — no matter how much you spank, this is not going to change the smoker’s determination.
  3. Removing Money/Allowance Doesn’t Work.  Another thing parents will tell you is to stop their allowance and then they will “not have any money to buy cigarettes”.  Unfortunately this concept is NOT true.  You actually place your child into a more desperate situation.  Kids will sell them one-at-a-time to each other, as well as offer or “loan” them to other kids.  Kids will even “barter” them … and do you want to be the one that encourages your daughter to start kissing and fooling around for cigarettes??  Talking “economics” does NOT work.
  4. Confront Your Child.  Take the cigarettes away and destroy them each time you find them.  The rule of “no cigarettes in my house” applies here.  Once they get into the house, they are yours.  Of course, that includes NO smoking in my presence, my car, my house, etc
  5. Discuss The Issue.
    • It is illegal to sell cigarettes to minors.  Without reminding your child of the law, ask WHERE he obtains his cigarettes.  Without any further comment to your child, make a mental note.  If he says a store name, a stern phone call to the manager the next day (calmly of course) might be warranted.  Remember that your child might be lying and the store manager might invite you to come down and look at his security tape!
    • Chances are if he is getting them from friends, he will never admit to WHO is supplying him.  So find out WHERE.  Is it happening on school grounds?  If you can get a confirmation out of that one, I would place a phone call to the principal of the school … again, a CALM phone call, and explain what you have learned.  Most schools are supposed to be tobacco free (for students) as all students are under 18.
    • Do you have a past with smoking?  Do you have any funny stories such as your father making you smoke an entire pack at one time?  Share those stories.  If you DON’T have a smoking history, explain WHY.  If you smoked and stopped, talk all about the reasons for stopping including the most important reasons:  your children and seeing them grow old.
  6. Are you a Hypocrite?  Are you smoking?  Are you smoking in the house or car?  “Do as I say and not as I do” lends no credibility to your story.  “You can do what you want when you turn 18” is also a terrible method of child rearing when it comes to smoking and drinking.
  7. Education.  Every week, leave a new stop smoking brochure on his bed.  The more gory the the images on the brochure, the better.  Images are a deterrent.  Take a look at the cigarette packs in Thailand:
    Thai cigarettes pictures to encourage stop smoking

  8. Eliminate Extra Rewards.  There are conflicting beliefs regarding rewards, but I would eliminate the “extras” that are unrelated to birthdays or Christmas presents.  New video games, replacement headphones, etc., can be remove from the gift list as punishment for smoking.  Be careful however, NOT to remove promised gifts that are tied to other accomplishments like grades, chores, etc.
  9. Talk to their Friends.  Calmly, and without accusation, talk to your child’s friends when you can corral them together.  Do this in front of your child — and use words that do NOT intentionally embarrass your child.  Just explaining to his friends why you are against smoking, and who in the family died because of it, or who in your family were born with genetic lung defects, etc., might be enough to help.  Even if it doesn’t help, you may help someone else’ child.
  10. Show your Disappointment.  Visually show your disappointment without saying a word each time you are around your child and you smell smoke.  Sniff them and put your eyes down in shame as you turn away.  Sometimes visual cues can be more powerful.
  11. Don’t Give up.  We all need to do our part to reduce the numbers who begin smoking each year.  In the USA, that number is decreasing.  In Asian countries, that number is INCREASING every year.