Many teenagers think smoking is cool, but Mom and Dad can take heart from a recent trend.
Current smoking rates among teens appear to have leveled off or even declined over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Still, there's reason to be diligent as parents. Cigarette advertising is more limited in the past but still remains fairly obvious, and pre-1980s movies, TV and music glamorized smoking. Fortunately, smoking has been de-emphasized in more modern entertainment.
Despite various forms of advertising, parents who smoke and allow smoking in the home, and peers who smoke have the greatest impact on whether pre-adolescents and teens will take up smoking.
But Mom and Dad have some forceful tools on their side:
The CDC website provides material for younger children and teens that quotes kids and celebrities, explaining why they don't smoke.
The U.S. Surgeon General's Office's youth-oriented booklet, "I Quit! What to do when you're sick of smoking, chewing or dipping." You can download it from the CDC website.
Be a good role model. Don't use tobacco and don't let others use it in your home.
Give your children clear and consistent messages about the risks of tobacco use.
Volunteer to help with prevention programs. If your community doesn't have one, start one.
If your child uses tobacco, support his or her efforts to stop. Help with goal setting and give lots of positive feedback.
© 2014 Main Line Health