16 July 2006

Warn children about smoking's dangers

Parents and schools need to teach children about the dangers of smoking so those children can make informed choices when they become adults. Although there are programs at schools and in the community, children need ongoing education about the dangers of smoking and nicotine.

Here are some tips to help parents teach about those dangers and keep them informed:

• Do not smoke. Your children are 50 percent more likely to smoke if you do. Don't allow smoking in your home.

• Your rules about tobacco use must be clear. Make sure they know that if they break the rules, there are consequences and they will be enforced.

• Eat dinner together. This way you hear about their day on the day it happened and you can answer any questions that come up.

• Know your child's friends.

• Know the days they get out of school early and where they are.

• Role-play saying no to tobacco.

• Discuss the 4,000 chemicals and 40 carcinogens in tobacco. Relate it to household products. It is OK to be graphic. "Arsenic is what is in rat poison," "Ammonia is what we clean our toilet with," "Formaldehyde is used for embalming people after they die."

• Talk about the type of appeals tobacco companies are using: glamour, popularity, fun.

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