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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the current cigarette smoking trend among American youth continues, 5.6 million of the Americans currently younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s nearly one out of every 13 Americans under the age 17 or younger. The CDC has provided information for those kids, as well as their parents and coaches, on how to prevent or stop smoking.

For teenagers, the CDC focuses mainly on athletic performance and appearance, pointing out the following:

  • Nicotine – whether it’s found in cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco, is addictive.
  • Nicotine narrows your blood vessels and puts strain on your heart.
  • Smoking can damage your lungs and reduce the amount of oxygen that can be used by your muscles when playing sports.
  • Smokers experience shortness of breath nearly three times more often than nonsmokers.
  • Smokers can’t run as fast or as far as nonsmokers.
  • Cigars, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes are not safe alternatives.
  • Tobacco can make your hair, clothes, and breath stink.
  • Tobacco stains teeth and can cause cracked lips, mouth sores, and bleeding in the mouth.

The information for parents states that kids who use tobacco may:

  • Have asthma attacks and coughing spells more often and develop respiratory problems, which can lead to more missed school days, more doctor bills, and poorer athletic performance.
  • Be more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana.
  • Become addicted to tobacco and find it very difficult to quit.

It also reiterates that chewing tobacco, cigars, and low-tar and additive-free cigarettes are not safe alternatives to cigarettes and points out that tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking can cause hearing loss, vision loss, heart disease, cancers, and strokes.

The CDC recommends that parents talk honestly to their children about the risks of tobacco use, including telling them about any friends or relatives that died from tobacco-related illnesses. If you, the parent, use tobacco, the best thing you can do to set a good example is quit. Otherwise, don’t use tobacco in your children’s presence, don’t offer it to them, even just a single hit, and don’t leave tobacco products where they can easily get to it.

Start talking about tobacco use early – at age five or six- and continue through their high school years. There are many kids who start using tobacco as early as age 11, and many are addicted by age 14. Know who your kids’ friends are and if they use tobacco. Discuss with your child how to say no if someone offers it to them. Whether it seems like it or not, parents are still the greatest influences on their children’s lives even when they are teenagers.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.