But one out of four high school seniors and one out of three young adults under age 26 are smokers. And did you know teens who smoke are also more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs?
While the media warns about smoking, it often portrays it as cool at the same time. That’s one reason nearly 4,000 kids under age 18 try their first cigarette every day. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18. On any given day, more than 2,500 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers will become regular smokers.
While the rate of U.S. teens who smoke declined between 2004 and 2014, the rate has leveled and e-cigarette use is growing.
People who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting, but you can offer support.
What parents can do
- Do not allow tobacco use in your house or car.
- Set expectations that your teen will never use tobacco, or will stop using it.
- Make sure you know what your teens are doing and who their friends are.
- Network with other parents who can help you encourage children and teens to refuse tobacco.
- Encourage your children’s schools to enforce tobacco-free policies for students, faculty, staff and visitors both on campus and at all school-sponsored events off campus.
- Enforce movie age restrictions and discourage teens from playing video games or using other media that feature smoking.
- Never give tobacco to children or teens.
- Set a good example by not using tobacco yourself.