people think tobacco-related health problems affect only adults after a lifetime
of smoking or tobacco use. Yet, children and teens suffer from tobacco-related
health problems as well. The fact is tobacco use can affect every member of the
parent, you would never knowingly harm your child. Yet, if you are a smoker, the
smoke from your cigarette, cigar, or pipe may be putting your child's health in
danger. Environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS, is the smoke that is breathed out
by a smoker. ETS also includes the smoke that comes from a burning cigarette,
cigar, or pipe.
to ETS is a serious health threat to children. Children exposed to ETS have a
greater risk of many health problems including:
Upper respiratory tract infections
Long-term lung damage
and ETS are also dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies. They have
been linked to low birth weight, delayed growth, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
Recent studies have found that infants are at greater risk of dying from SIDS
(sudden infant death syndrome) if exposed to ETS or if their mother was exposed
to ETS during pregnancy.
information on ETS, ask your pediatrician about the brochure, Environmental
Tobacco Smoke: A Danger to Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
percent of all smokers begin the habit during their teens. Over the past 10
years, the number of smokers has decreased in every age-group except
teenagers. Among teens, the number of young women smokers has actually
increased. Teenage smokers suffer from:
Addiction to nicotine
Faster heart rate
Decreased lung function
Increased blood pressure
Increased risk of developing lung cancer
Increased respiratory tract infection
a lifelong addiction that is often hard to break. It may also lead to other
addictions and a poorer quality of life. Fighting the influence of the tobacco
companies and convincing children not to use tobacco products is a tough task.
Parents need to give teenagers the facts about the negative effects of smoking.
the most preventable cause of death and disability in the United States.
Consider the following facts:
country, 350,000 deaths a year are related to tobacco use.
of all deaths from cancer and heart disease are caused by smoking, chewing
tobacco, or snuff.
fourths of the deaths from chronic lung disease are related to tobacco.
nonsmoking spouse of a smoker has a 30% greater risk of lung cancer. This alone
accounts for 2,000 deaths a year.
whose parents smoke are twice as likely to start smoking than children of
55% of adult Americans smoked cigarettes. By 1993, this percentage decreased to
25%. This shows that thousands of Americans have found a way to stop smoking. By
doing so, they will live longer, feel better, and improve the health of their
pediatrician understands that good communication between parents and children is
one of the best ways to prevent drug use. If talking with your child about
tobacco use is difficult, your pediatrician may be able to help open the lines
of communication. If you suspect your child is smoking cigarettes or cigars,
chewing tobacco, or using any other drug, rely on your pediatrician for advice
influence on a teen's decision to smoke is the media. Young people today are
surrounded by images in the media that smoking is normal, desirable, and
harmless. Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars every year promoting their
products on TV, in movies and magazines, on billboards, and at sporting events.
In fact, tobacco products are among the most advertised products in the nation.
The tobacco companies hope to get back the profits they lose as older smokers
die and as more and more adults quit smoking. As a result, young people are the
primary targets of many of these ads.
companies and advertisers never mention the harmful effects of smoking, such as
bad breath, stained teeth, heart disease, and cancer. Most ads show smokers as
healthy, energetic, sexy, and successful. Help your teenager understand the
difference between these misleading messages in advertising and the truth about
the dangers of smoking.
you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Your actions will influence your child's
ads with your children. Help them to understand the real messages being
kids to be wary consumers.
the TV shows and movies your child watches do not normalize or glamorize the use
allow your child to wear T-shirts, jackets, or hats that promote tobacco
administrators at your teen's school about starting a media education program.
"smokeless tobacco" refers to both chewing tobacco and snuff (also
called "dip"). Chewing tobacco is a form of leaf tobacco. Snuff is
finely ground tobacco. Both products lead to nicotine addiction because the
nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream. Smokeless tobacco products damage the
lining of the mouth and throat and may cause mouth cancer, throat cancer, and
smokeless tobacco products also results in:
teeth, bad breath, slow healing of mouth wounds, and lowered sense of taste and
companies have increased their advertising programs to promote smokeless tobacco
products. Famous athletes often endorse these products, making them seem even
more appealing to teenagers. As a result, the number of teenagers and young
adults who are chewing tobacco is increasing. Parents need to oppose the use of
smokeless tobacco. Inform your children of the serious side effects of its use.
The facts on the health risks from smokeless tobacco make one thing very clear:
IT IS NOT A SAFE CHOICE!
like to join the growing numbers who have quit using tobacco? Have you tried in
the past and failed, but would now like to try again? Why not ask your doctor
for help? Your doctor may be just the person to help you find an effective
stop-smoking program. For more information, contact any of the following
Cancer Society: 1-800-ACS-2345
Web site: www.cancer.org
Heart Association: 1-800-242-8721
Web site: www.americanheart.org
Lung Association: 1-800-586-4872
Web site: www.lungusa.org