Young bodies are more sensitive to nicotine, and teens become addicted quicker than adults. If you find your teen smoking, take it seriously.
Finding out that your teenager smokes cigarettes can come as a huge shock to parents. Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. The best way to prevent smoking-related deaths is to prevent children from picking up the habit. Experts say it’s never too early to talk to your kids about smoking and warn them of the dangers. However, that can prove difficult if your child is already addicted to cigarettes.
Help your teen quit smoking
The decision to quit smoking is not an easy one, tobacco and cigarettes are highly addictive, especially for teens. The first days will be hard, but with a plan and some perseverance – your teen can do it!
Good to know: Whatever the reason your teen started smoking in the first place – it’s important that you help them take the first step on their journey towards a healthier life.
What happens when your teen stops puffing?
Your teen’s body will begin to heal itself within just 20 minutes of their last cigarette. Carbon monoxide and nicotine levels in their system will decline rapidly, and their heart and lungs will begin to repair the damage caused by cigarette smoke. Nine months after quitting, your teen’s lungs will have significantly healed themselves.
Steps parents can take
- Ask your teen to think about why he or she wants to stop smoking. The list can help your teen stay motivated when temptation arises.
- Help your teen choose a date to stop smoking.
- Encourage your teen to avoid people, places, and activities that he or she links with smoking.
- Remind your teen that if he or she can hold out long enough — usually just a few minutes — the nicotine craving will pass. Suggest taking a few deep breaths or taking a walk. Offer sugarless gum, hard candy, celery, or carrot sticks to keep his or her mouth busy.
- Although nicotine replacement products — such as nicotine gums, patches, inhalers, or nasal sprays — weren’t designed for teens, they might be helpful in some cases. Ask your teen’s doctor about the options.
- A tobacco-cessation specialist can give your teen the tools and support he or she needs to stop smoking. Some local organizations offer stop-smoking groups for teens. Web-based programs can support your teen whenever he or she needs it.
A word on vaping
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by the heated nicotine liquid (often called “juice”) of an electronic cigarette, vape pen, or personal vaporiser.
While some teens believe vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, most vaping devices and e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
Where to get help for your teen
The following support groups can be helpful in helping your teen stop smoking: