HowCan Parents Protect
Their Kids From Becoming
Addicted Tobacco Users…
Research shows that children who
have a parent who smokes are more
likely to smoke and to be heavier
smokers at young ages.
If you don’t use
tobacco, don’t start!
If you do use
If you use tobacco,
share your struggles to
quit with your children.
Kids greatly underestimate how
difficult it is to quit.(2)
A tobacco-free home makes children
less likely to use tobacco.
Parental attitudes, opinions, and
feelings about their kids’ tobacco
status greatly influence whether
or not kids will use tobacco.
Tell your kids
that you don’t
to use tobacco
and will be
if they do.
By making sure that kids know
how harmful tobacco is, parents can help
kids to develop a firm, negative perception
or attitude about tobacco and its
consequences, and kids with such
negative perceptions or attitudes are
less likely to use tobacco.
Make sure your
kids have the facts
Most teenagers wrongly believe that
smoking will have no direct effect on their
health until they reach middle age. But smoking
causes many immediate or near-term effects on
health, including persistent coughs, respiratory
problems, a greater susceptibility to illness,
and decreased physical performance.
Tobacco ads create the image that
tobacco use is sexy and attractive;
and kids identify improving self-
image as a reason for using
tobacco. Tobacco use actually
causes yellow teeth, bad
breath, smelly clothes, and
more severe and early
effects of smoking on
While parents can play an important role
in youth tobacco prevention, kids are subject
to other powerful influences outside their
homes. Most notably, the tobacco companies
spend more than $9.6 billion per year to
market and promote their products.
Research studies have
found that kids are three
times as sensitive to
But dumping the entire burden on parents will
not stop tobacco companies from developing new
products that appeal to kids nor will it stop
tobacco marketing that reaches kids.
Big tobacco says
use among kids is the
Reduce the powerful impact of tobacco ads by
talking with your children about the ads’ false sense
of coolness & beauty, as well as about how the tobacco
companies try to manipulate kids into becoming
their future addicted customers.
Show your kids how
tobacco ads and images
are designed to
Make your kids’ schools
tobacco-free & support
other local tobacco
Find out if your school is tobacco free.
Friends, movies, music, celebrities, or
advertising may give teens the impression
that tobacco use is sexy, helps lose weight,
or can help them fit in. These are myths.
Using tobacco is not a sign of maturity,
and most adults who started using
tobacco as teens later regret it.
Cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco
use, including tobacco use among teens. However there
are other forms of tobacco that teens may try to use.
Sometimes they do so, thinking that the health risks
or chance of addiction are lower.
information about different
forms of tobacco.
Packs of cigarettes consumed by
kids each year: 540 million
Kids under 18 alive today in North Dakota
who will ultimately die from smoking
(unless smoking declines): 14,000
Tobacco companies spend nearly
a million dollars an hour in this country
alone to market their products.
Kids (under 18) who try smoking for the
first time each day: 2,500+
The more young people are exposed to
tobacco advertising and promotional activities,
the more likely they are to smoke.(10)
Some cigarette-sized cigars contain candy and fruit
flavoring, such as strawberry and grape.
products on the market
appeal to youth.
prevent young people
from starting to use
tobacco in the first
place and more than
pay for themselves in
lives and health care
& public places
Higher tobacco taxes
Regulation of the
& sales of tobacco products(11)
Policies are very important in preventing young people
from using tobacco because they can change the
environment so that choosing a tobacco-free life is
encouraged and supported. You can make a difference,
starting today by showing your support for policies:
What you can do
Make tobacco products less affordable by
increasing tobacco taxes.
Support existing tobacco-free and smoke-free
policies within your community and show your support
for new policies that protect kids from using tobacco,
which can include tobacco-free schools, daycares and
outdoor public places such as parks and recreation areas.
Restrict tobacco marketing.
Gilman, SE, et al., “Parental Smoking andAdolescent Smoking Initiation: An Intergenerational Perspective on Tobacco
Control,” Pediatrics 123(2): e274-e281, February 2009. Bauman, K, et al., “Effect of parental smoking classification on
the association between parental and adolescent smoking,”Addictive Behaviors 15(5):413-22
1990. See also, Osler, M, et al., “Maternal smoking during childhood and increased risk of smoking in young adulthood,”
International Journal of Epidemiology 24(4):710-4, August 1995.
Farkas, A, et al., “Does parental smoking cessation discourage adolescent smoking,” Preventive Medicine 28(3):213-8,
March 1999. How Parents Can Protect Their Kids From BecomingAddicted Smokers / 4
Johnston, LD, et al., “Drug Use, Drinking, and Smoking: National Survey Results from High School, College, and Young
Adult Populations, 19751988,” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Washington, DC, 1989. See also, Stanton,
W, et al., “Adolescents’experiences of smoking cessation,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 43:63-70, 1996.
Gilpin, E, et al., “Home smoking restrictions: which smokers have them and how they are associated with smoking
behavior,” Nicotine and Tobacco Research 1:153-162, 1999. See also, Proescholdbell, R, et al., “Home smoking
restrictions and adolescent smoking,” Nicotine and Tobacco Research 2(2):159-67,2000.
Sargent, J, et al., “Strong parental disapproval of smoking prevents adolescents from becoming established smokers,”
Pediatric Research 47(4 supp):11A (abstract 63), 2000. See also, Distefan, J, et al., “Parental influences predict
adolescent smoking in the United States, 1989-1993,” Journal of Adolescent Health 22: 466-74, 1998.
Reimers, T, et al., “Risk factors for adolescent cigarette smoking. The Muscatine study,”American Journal of Diseases
of Children 144(11):1265-72, November 1990. See also, Greenlund, K, et al., “Cigarette smoking attitudes and first use
among third- through sixth-grade students: The Bogalusa Heart Study,”American Journal of Public Health 87(8):1345-
8, August 1997.
References - To download a list PDF of our resources, click here.
AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, Child Health Month Report, “The Risks of Tobacco Use: A Message to Parents and
Teens,”October 1998. See also, Milam, J, “Perceived invulnerability and cigarette smoking among adolescents,”Addictive
Behaviors 25(1):71-80, Jan-Feb 2000.
Newman, I, “Capturing the energy of peer pressure: insights from a longitudinal study of adolescent cigarette smoking,”
Journal of School Health 54(4):146-8, April 1984. See also, Stanton, W, et al., “Reasons for smoking or not smoking in
early adolescence,”Addictive Behaviors 18(3):321-9, May-June 1993.
See TFK factsheet, How Parents Can Protect Their Kids From Becoming Addicted Smokers,
See TFK factsheet, Smokeless Tobacco and Kids, http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0003.pdf
See TFK factsheet, The Toll of Tobacco in North Dakota,
See TFK factsheet, Prevention and Cessation Programs,
http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/what_we_do/state_local/prevention_cessation/; Smoke free Laws,
http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/what_we_do/state_local/smoke_free_laws/; State Tobacco Taxes,
http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/what_we_do/state_local/taxes/; FDAAuthority Over Tobacco,
See TFK, Not Your Grandfathers Cigar, http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/what_we_do/industry_watch/cigar_report/