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I have never understood the whole smoking hype! Growing up, no one really smoked around me. If there happened to be a family member that smoked at a family gathering, you best believe they were told to smoke out of site so my brother, sister & I didn’t see it. Smoking was so taboo and labeled “bad” “gross” “smelly” even “scummy” that I just assumed only horrible people smoked.
I even went to an itty bitty school that sort of proved these claims! The only smokers once I hit high school were the ISS and detention regulars. I was a cheerleader with dreams of college so you best believe I didn’t even think about smoking! I wanted nothing to do with THAT crowd.
Fast forward to college. I was no longer living in a tiny, small preppy town bubble! I was now surrounded by thousands of kids coming from all types of backgrounds. I was definitely shocked by the amount of kids smoking in between classes! Smoke-Free campus meant nothing and these people smoking? I would spot athletes, nerds, fashionistas, even teachers puffing away!
I even remember walking into my first modeling casting call in NYC and spotting headshots with cigarettes in their hands plastered all over the walls. It was like my whole childhood was a lie and it wasn’t just the trouble makers puffing away, it was the whole freaking world! It was definitely a sickening site that’s for sure.
Thankfully I have always danced to the beat of my own drum and never fell to peer pressure, no matter how “cool” the in crowd claimed smoking to be! Smoking is one expensive habit and I already spend enough on makeup, handbags and accessories! I didn’t need another one!
Now that I’m a mother the pressure is on to make sure my daughter follows in my smoke-free footsteps! With the average age of a new smoker in New York State being only 13 years old. That’s right 13!!!! This will not be one easy task! Cigarettes are everywhere since tobacco companies are spending billions to put their products in front of our kids in stores. And the more kids see tobacco, the more likely they are to start smoking.
Hopefully with the help of these tips below, I can achieve this parenting goal of having a smoke-free child. I would after all like a lifetime full of memories with my precious child and not have our adventures cut short due to something as gross as smoking!
1. Talk to Your Kids SOONER rather than later!
Don’t let a friend or even a store display be the first ones to introduce your child to cigarettes! Let this be a conversation your child has with you first! The sooner your child knows what cigarettes are and the consequences of starting this habit, the better! You have zero clue how other kids view smoking. Your child could be besties with a kiddo from a home where smoking isn’t a taboos subject! Mom & Dad might even buy their kids cigarettes! Not trying to be the barren of bad news here. Just keeping it real!! These families do exist and you need to be prepared for it. At least if your child knows your views on this topic, cigarettes will hopefully be less appealing in those younger years. No one wants to hide something from mom & dad on a regular basis. Have that conversation now before they hear it somewhere else first & think it’s ok to light up that first cigarette.
2. Discuss the consequences!
Knowing mom & dad are against smoking won’t work forever! Discuss the REAL consequences of smoking with your child. Now don’t go overboard and try to scare the crap out of them. That method will most likely backfire in the long run and you will be labeled an exaggerator or even a liar. Keep this discussion real and talk about how cigarettes can lead to sickness such as lung cancer, emphysema, even heart disease! Then mention more relatable consequences like bad-smelling clothing and proneness to acne. Does your kiddo play sports? Then drop a few truth bombs on your child about how smoking can have a negative in pact on their athletic abilities! Your child doesn’t want to be a bench warmer do they?
3. It doesn’t end with just cigarettes.
Don’t forget to educate your child on the different forms of nicotine. Chewing tobacco is just as bad & don’t forget to mention those vapes. Vapes and their pretty colors and flavors seem to be all the rage these days. So make sure your child knows they are just as uncool as those classic cigarettes. Just because something is pretty and trendy doesn’t make it acceptable!
4. Peer Pressure
If you are the parent of a tween or even teen, you may want to have a discussion on how to actually handle peer pressure. It’s easy to tell your child to say no, but in reality, it’s going to take a lot more than that! No is not always going to work. Help your child come up with ways to deal with that peer pressure by thinking of cleaver responses & one liners besides no.
“Ewww, I don’t feel like smelling like an ashtray!”
” I actually want to play ball this year & not warm the bench.”
“I already have an expensive habit and have makeup to buy instead of cigarettes.”
The list goes on! The more prepared your child is, the better luck you have of your child saying NO!
5. It’s time to take action
We can help our kids come up with all the witty cigarette excuses in the world, but unfortunately it still might not be enough. Our kids can hang out with angels and they will still be exposed to cigarettes on a daily basis just by walking into grocery stores or even spotting ads! As I mentioned above, Tobacco companies are spending billions to put their products in front of our kids in stores. These companies don’t care about your child’s health whatsoever. Your child equals more cash in their pockets.
Our kids have seen enough!!! If you ask me, it’s time we as parents take action and protect our kids from being exposed to tobacco products in stores!
Sign the “Seen Enough Tobacco” pledge today to make New York a healthier place to live, work and play!
Pledge => http://goic.io/BkjIJJ
Tobacco Free New York State Site: http://www.tobaccofreenys.org/
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