Most people who use tobacco begin before the age of 19; the average age to start is 12. If your child has made the choice to use tobacco, here are a few strategies that may help:
• Remember the importance of providing your child with a home environment that is a safe haven where they feel accepted rather than criticized. Nagging, complaining, and degrading your teen may only push him or her to use tobacco even more. When talking to your teen, focus on the good things he or she has done or the positive things you see. Know it is possible for your teen to quit using tobacco, and to do so he or she will need positive encouragement from you.
• Find cessation programs to help your teen. Check with your local health department, American Cancer Society, or school counselor to find a teen tobacco cessation program, or call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1-888-567-8788.
• Encourage your child to invite his or her friends to your home to hang out, but make a “no smoking/no tobacco” policy. Provide transportation or other opportunities for your teen to hang out at public places that do not allow tobacco use.
• Talk to your teen’s health care provider if he or she wants to use medication or nicotine replacement therapy to help quit.
• Provide incentives to your teen when he or she goes a week, a month, or more without using tobacco. Take your teen out for a nice dinner, a movie, or buy him or her a new clothing item. Incentives encourage teens to continue trying.
• Realize your teen is becoming more independent. Let him or her make some grown-up decisions. To be successful, your teen must decide to quit on his or her own. Be there to support your teen when he or she arrives at that decision.
• Allow a little bad attitude or agitation when your teen is at the beginning of his or her quit attempt. Te addiction to nicotine is very strong and withdrawal causes several physical and emotional effects. Be patient with your teen to help him or her get through the difficult times.
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