Medical Monday: Keeping kids tobacco free - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Medical Monday: Keeping kids tobacco free

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Most smokers begin as teenagers. And once your teen takes that first puff, it can turn into a long-term habit that is hard to break and increases the risk of many health issues. Susan Lundsten, Gundersen wellness education specialist, discussed tips to keep kids tobacco free.

The best way to protect your kids from the life-long dangers of smoking is to help them avoid starting in the first place. Here are some tips to help keep your kids smoke-free:

  1. Talk to your kids about smoking. Let your kids know they can talk to you openly about smoking. Ask them if their friends smoke and how they feel about smoking. Talk about why some kids smoke and explain the reality that smoking doesn't make people cooler, more glamorous or more likely to fit-in with a certain crowd. Show them how tobacco ads are designed to manipulate them.
  2. Express your disapproval. You may think teens are more likely to rebel if you firmly say "no" to smoking, but kids whose parents set stricter limits tend to smoke less than teens whose parents don't set limits.
  3. Lead by example. Teens are more likely to smoke if their parents smoke so one of the best things you can do for your kids, and your own health, is to quit. If you do smoke, talk to your teen about how hard it is to quit but that you'll keep trying.
  4. Talk about how expensive smoking is. Teens have limited budgets so if you help them do the math to see how much smoking will take away from other things they might want to spend money on, it'll provide them with a concrete way to see the immediate cost of smoking.
  5. Highlight the effects of smoking on appearance. Talk about how smoking makes your breath, hair and clothes smell. Show them photos of how smoking turns teeth yellow and makes it more likely they'll get wrinkles.
  6. Discuss the health aspects of smoking. Your child may not be able to imagine a time when they're old enough to worry about things like cancer or heart disease, but talk about what can happen anyway. Emphasize the immediate effects, such as coughs, respiratory problems and decreased athletic performance.
  7. Role play. Even if teens don't plan on smoking, they may be swayed by peer pressure. Role play some scenarios so they can figure out in advance what they'll do or say if someone tries to get them to smoke.

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