About three weeks ago, at the last Health Fair, a mother came up to me at one of the tables looking for help. She had seen one of the tobacco prevention messages on TV and decided to take their advice about talking to your kids. She asked her 8-year-old son what he thought about cigarettes.
What she heard shook her to the core, since she had lost her father to lung cancer after years of smoking! She found that her 8-year-old son had not only thought of cigarettes, but had already made the decision that he wanted to smoke. He "liked them" and said "as soon as I'm old enough I'm going to smoke."
This mother can be thankful that her son respects the law. Obviously knowing there is a legal age, he plans to wait until he is older. In the third grade, this child has information from some place that tells him it will be great to smoke! How long will it take him to "learn" that waiting is silly because "others are doing it and nothing is happening to them?" If he gets his learning in the future from the same place he has been getting it, he is likely to be smoking well before he graduates from high school!
Statistics show that if you can keep children smoke-free until they graduate from high school, they will likely NEVER take up the habit. However, when young people smoke, they are more highly addicted than smokers who start as adults. They are less likely to be able to quit once they start smoking, and it may lead the way to other addictive drugs. The American Cancer Society, Heart Association and Lung Association all agree.
Pass the tobacco tax so we can put prevention education back in all the schools and give our kids a fighting chance! Today: Ask your child what he/she thinks about cigarettes.