Tips for Parents

When it comes to preventing teens from using tobacco or helping them quit, parents can take several steps: Be an example. 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 the age of 26 are likely to never start. [1]

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. [2]

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. [3]

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. [4]

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, visit Talking with Teens, OAH’s resource for parents and other adults working with adolescents.


[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). A report of the Surgeon General: Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults. Atlanta, GA.. Retrieved June 19, 2014, from
[2] Chen, L.-S., Johnson, E. O., Breslau, N., Hatsukami, D., Saccone, N. L., Grucza, R. A., et al. (2009). Interplay of genetic risk factors and parent monitoring in risk for nicotine dependence. Addiction, 104(10), 1731-1740.
[3] Sargent, J. D., & Dalton, M. (2001). Does parental disapproval of smoking prevent adolescents from becoming established smokers? Pediatrics, 108(6), 1256-1262.
[4]Sargent, J. D., Beach, M. L., Dalton, M. A., Ernstoff, L. T., Gibson, J. J., Tickle, J. J., et al. (2004). Effect of parental R-rated movie restriction on adolescent smoking initiation: A prospective study. Pediatrics, 114(1), 149-156.
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Last updated: June 30, 2014