School is almost out. Kids are dreaming of days off from school, while parents are looking for activities to keep the kids occupied. The pantry and refrigerator will be stocked with healthy snacks. Parents will double check to make sure harmful products are kept out of the reach of adventuresome, exploring, bored-out-of-their-minds kids. What about those cigarettes you keep in your purse, on the dresser or in the car? If you are a smoker, your child has free access to tobacco products 24 hours a day. And the access doesn’t stop there.
Take a walk with your child on a beach, a park or just down your street and notice all the discarded cigarette butts. If your kids are young, a discarded cigarette with a couple of puffs left is easy to find and tempting to a child who wants to experiment. If your kids are older they can shred a couple of butts and re-roll the tobacco into cigarettes. Some kids believe they can “sterilize” the filters by running a lighter over them rendering the butt disease free.
Cigarette filters are toxic to wildlife as well as people. The filters are made up of plastic which does not break down in the environment. Birds, fish and other wildlife that mistake the filters as food eat them and die. Little kids naturally pick things up and put them in their mouth. One cigarette butt has enough nicotine in it to cause respiratory failure, paralysis and even death to a small child. Every year poison control centers in the United States receive thousands of reports of children ingesting tobacco products.
As a parent, you are your child’s greatest mentor. The temptation to use tobacco products is all around your child. If you don’t want your child to take up smoking, or use other tobacco products, teach them about the dangers. If you do smoke or use tobacco products, there is no time like the present to give it up for your child’s sake.
Have a great summer!