Parents can help make Wisconsin a healthier place for kids. Get started in your own home. Let your friends (and your children’s friends) know your home is tobacco free and make sure to talk to your kids about the damage nicotine and tobacco can do.
5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids
You don’t have to be an expert to talk to your kids about the dangers of tobacco use. Just let your kids know how you feel about tobacco and make sure they have the facts they need to make healthy decisions on their own. Here are a few tips than can help:
1. Make it personal.
Most people who use tobacco want to quit. If you or someone you love has struggled with nicotine addiction or a tobacco-related illness, talk to your kids about it. Your honesty may help your child understand how damaging tobacco use can be, in any form.
2. Focus on right now.
Young people can have a hard time imagining long-term health effects, like cancer or lung disease. The immediate costs of tobacco use—like shortness of breath, mouth sores, yellow teeth, and addiction—are much easier for them to relate to. Talk about how tobacco could affect activities like hanging out with friends and playing sports.
3. Talk about social costs.
In advertising, tobacco products can seem sexy, cool and attractive. But in reality, using tobacco can have some pretty unappealing effects. Nobody wants to smell bad, have yellow teeth and bad breath, or get red and itchy eyes. Encourage your child to think about the impact tobacco can have on first impressions and first dates.
4. Remember, tobacco-free is popular.
It’s natural for kids to want to keep up with their friends. And there are so many tobacco products in stores and ads and YouTube videos, it’s easy for kids to believe that “everybody is doing it.” But that simply isn’t true. Most Wisconsin youth have never used tobacco. Remind your kids that living tobacco free is the popular choice.
5. Ask them to ask.
Make sure your child knows they can always ask you about tobacco products first (instead of turning to Google, YouTube, or classmates and friends). You may not know everything, but you can find the answers together.
Want to take action on the tobacco-related issues that matter you? As a local tobacco-free coalition volunteer you can help protect children and families in your own community. Right now, volunteers around the state are working to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. They also support vulnerable communities and help people quit. There’s a lot of work to be done, and you can be a part of it.
There are 20 tobacco-free coalitions in Wisconsin leading community education and prevention efforts in 62 of the state’s 72 counties. It’s easy to find the coalition effecting change in your neighborhood.