You would be surprised at how facts and fiction about smoking get spread amongst teens and tweens in today’s age of everyone having a mobile phone at the age of ten, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and so forth. Odds are, your child is at least as connected to the Internet and friends as you are (if not more so)…and they have more time on their hands. In some countries, younger tween and teen girls start smoking because they think it will help them lose weight or keep weight off despite the negative effects of smoking on their health. Some areas of the world actually have more girl teen smokers than boys by the age of 16! Boys of these ages tend to smoke to mimic role models such as fathers, older brothers, older brothers of friends, professional athletes, etc that they see smoking. As recently as 2005, it was found in developed countries that as many as 1 in 5 teenagers did smoke.
Impact of Tobacco Advertising on Underage Smoking
Tobacco companies still have the most influence on our youth in convincing them to start smoking. They use well-known sports, music, and movie figures that are popular with tweens and teens to be their advertising face in order to get children to be open to smoking. Some countries have realized this and significantly cracked down on the mediums of advertising that tobacco companies are allowed to use to target advertising, but it is still not 100% effective. The well-known people used for the advertising are well-compensated for their work and tobacco companies rarely have issues obtaining a well-known face to help out on an ad campaign.
Do as I Say and Not as I Do!
This attitude may have worked 20 years ago, but the kids in Generation Y are not going to follow-suit. The smart teen or tween, will “yes-Mom” or “Yes-Dad” you to death when you tell them not to smoke…but if you or any of the authority figures in their life do, they are going to turn to smoking and just hide it from you. It gives your child a sense of being an adult by smoking…the fact that its “verboten” or forbidden, just adds to the intrigue of smoking. If you are a smoker, the first thing you should do is admit to your kid or kids that it was a mistake that you started to smoke and if you could go back in time, you would have never started. Then, you should make a very visible attempt to stop smoking now! Its ok to admit to your kids that you need stop smoking help, and that’s one of the reasons they should not start. When you show them that you can beat smoking, they will be proud of you.