Q: I think my daughter is smoking cigarettes.

What can I do to help her to stop?


A: Smoking is prevalent in American high schools. The numbers are staggering.

The Lung Society reports that 28 percent of high school students smoke. Ninety percent of smokers begin before they are 21 years old, and 12.5 years is the average age at which people first try cigarettes. Currently, 4.5 million U.S. adolescents are cigarette smokers.

Smoking is a complex issue. Kids smoke for a host of reasons – fitting in, peer pressure to experiment, dealing with stress, weight loss and trying to rebel.

What can parents do?

For parents of young kids: begin talking at an early age about the dangers of smoking and be a good role model.

For parents of a teen who is smoking:

  • Talk to your children about your concerns. They may not tell you that they are smoking, but you can still tell them that you suspect it.
  • Understand that talking to your children will not make them stop immediately. A number of issues lead children to smoke.
  • Offer support to them through programs. Family doctors are a good resource for this.
  • Communicate and enforce consequences for their smoking. This could be that they can’t go out, drive the car, use the computer – whatever is best for your family. Giving your children a “reason” to quit can be helpful.
  • Positively reinforce your children to help them quit. Giving them incentives can often prompt them to try.
  • Remind your children that more people don’t smoke than do smoke. This helps them keep it in perspective.

Remember, quitting smoking is a really hard thing to do. Your children may fail a few times before they actually quit. They will need your help and encouragement to quit.