Do you know if your teen is smoking or chewing tobacco? According to a 2013 study in Pediatrics, nearly six percent of students from grades 6 through 12 use smokeless tobacco. About 72 percent of those students also said they smoked.
But only 40 percent of the students surveyed said they planned to quit. In fact, the study found that most teens didn’t believe smokeless tobacco was as harmful as smoking, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Teens may think they’re invincible, but they’re not — especially when it comes to unhealthy habits like chewing tobacco and smoking.
Long-term effects of smoking or chewing tobacco include mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, and throat cancer; lung cancer; heart disease and stroke; receding gums; tooth loss; bad breath; and more. Nicotine in cigarettes and chewing tobacco is highly addictive.
If you’re worried your teen smokes or chews tobacco, talk to them about your concerns.
• If you use tobacco, stop. Don’t offer them tobacco and don’t have it around the house.
• Appeal to their vanity. Chewing tobacco and smoking lead to discolored teeth, bad breath, and smelly hair and clothing.
• Raise their awareness of how smoking is glamorized in advertisements, on TV, and in movies.
• Show them this video about a teen with terrible teeth from chewing tobacco.
Most important, be present in your teens’ lives. Even if they don’t often say it, they still look up to you!