DID YOU KNOW?
Eighteen percent of 8th graders tried cigarettes in 2011, a 63 percent decline from 1996, when almost half of 8th graders had.
Cigarette smoking among adolescents has declined dramatically in the last 15 years. Today, most adolescents do not smoke, but about one in nine has smoked within the past month  and the use of smokeless tobacco has increased slightly in recent years. Tobacco use harms nearly every organ in the body, and more than six million children born between 1983 and 2000 will die in adulthood of smoking-related illnesses. Multiple factors influence whether an adolescent becomes a regular smoker, including genetics and having parents or peers who smoke. Many adolescents start trying tobacco products at a young age, so prevention efforts in schools, in communities, and in homes, can help and should begin early.
New Surgeon General's Report Released! "Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults" summarizes the latest findings about the epidemic of tobacco use among youth and young adults, the causes, and the solutions. Keep reading for information on how adolescent tobacco users can quit for good - and how parents can help prevent tobacco use in the first place.
Helping tobacco users quit
There are many free resources, tips and counseling services to help tobacco users quit.
- A national toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, provides information to help adolescents (as well as adults) stop smoking.
- SmokeFree Teen, a site from the National Cancer Institute, specifically for teens, is designed to help them understand the decisions they make—especially the decision to quit smoking—and how those decisions fit into their lives. Through the site, adolescents can access LiveHelp, the National Cancer Institute's instant messaging service, as well as a number of quizzes and interactive features to help adolescents understand smoking’s impact, as well as obtain tips for quitting.
- SmokeFree.gov (SmokeFree Teens' parent site) has a number of different resources: A step-by-step quit smoking guide; an interactive U.S. map highlighting smoking information for each state; and publications to download, print, or order.
- SmokeFreeTxt, also from NCI, is a free mobile service designed for teens and young adults and created to provide 24/7 encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers stop smoking for good.
Stop Smoking Before it Starts: What Parents can Do to Help
When it comes to preventing teens from smoking, parents can take several steps:
First, parents can choose not to smoke themselves.
Don’t be shy. Parents should speak up before their children begin smoking or if tobacco use of any kind is suspected. Youth who do not use tobacco before or during the teenage years are much more likely to stay smoke-free for the rest of their lives.
Monitor. The amount of monitoring parents do (such as having expectations about when adolescents will be home and checking on their plans) can lessen a teen’s risks of nicotine-dependence.
Strongly disapprove. Adolescents whose parents strongly disapprove of their smoking—even if the parents themselves smoke—are less likely to take up smoking. Parental disapproval has even been found to counteract the influence of peers on smoking.
Know what children watch. Parents who set limits on adolescents’ movie choices may help prevent them from starting to smoke; many adult- oriented movies include depictions of smoking that may glamorize the habit.
Enlist allies. Other adults, such as teachers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, influence whether teens start using tobacco and whether they stop. These adults can be important allies in communicating a no-smoking message to teens.
For more tips on how parents can have meaningful conversations with their teen about tobacco use and its dangers, Talking with Teens, OAH’s resource for parents and other adults working with adolescents.
 Johnston, L.D., O'Malley, P.M., Bachman, J.G., & Schulenberg, J.E. (2011). Monitoring the Future: National results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2011. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf- overview2011.pdf
Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2011). Monitoring the Future: National results on adolescent drug use: Overview of key findings, 2011. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf- overview2011.pdf
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2009). Tobacco addiction. Research Report Series. NIH publication number 09-4342. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved February 16, 2011, from http://www.nida.nih.gov/PDF/TobaccoRRS_v16.pdf
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