It is Red Ribbon Week 2017, and if you haven’t done so, you need to have “that talk” with your child(ren). You know, the one about the dangers of tobacco and vaping. As a parent, you have more influence on the decisions your child(ren) make then you think. Studies show that kids who believe their parents strongly disapprove of smoking, are less likely to do it. That also goes for other substances to which your child(ren) may be exposed.
One such study followed a group of three rural Vermont schools over the course of three years from grades four to eleven. The students were asked whether their family members or friends smoked, and how their parents would react if they found out. If the students believed the parents would be upset or would tell them to stop, it signaled strong disapproval. The students whose parents would disapprove of smoking were “less than half as likely to become established smokers” as the students who did not feel their parents would disapprove. The researchers also discovered during the course of the study that if the parents seemed to be more lenient with regard to smoking, the students were “twice as likely to become established smokers.”
The researchers also discovered that parental approval trumped peer pressure when it came to smoking. Disapproval of smoking from the parents, even if they themselves smoked, also means youth are less likely to smoke. Hopefully that disapproval also carries over to vaping as well, as more students are vaping now than smoking cigarettes.
National figures for 2015 report about 1 in 4 high school are current ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) users. According to Florida Youth Tobacco Survey between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of high school students trying e-cigarettes increased 526.7% to 37.6%; middle school students increased 390.0% to 14.7% during the same time period. Many of these students had never wanted to smoke, but e-cigarettes with their flavorings seem safer and fun compared to traditional cigarettes. Once they are addicted to the nicotine, they may turn to traditional cigarettes.
It doesn’t matter how mature or smart your child(ren) seem, they may not have good judgment about smoking due to the fact the decision-making part of the brain is still developing which will continue until about 25 years of age. That’s why is it so important for parents to discuss smoking and vaping and their consequences with their child(ren) early and often. If you need help starting the conversation, the links below can help.
Click HERE to learn more about Red Ribbon Week.
Click HERE for the Parent Guide to E-cigarettes from the Surgeon General, and HERE for information on smoking and tobacco use from the CDC.
Click HERE for a guide on talking to your kids about smoking.