There is so much information about the serious damage that smoking tobacco does to our health. It is very addictive and once started, it is hard to stop. There are a lot of reasons why people start smoking. We do know that those who struggle to stop smoking as adults will often tell you they had their first cigarette when they were very young; either in late childhood or early teens.
An E-cig or Vape is an electronic device – they heat a liquid (vape -juice) until it produces an aerosol gas, that looks like smoke. Users breathe this into their lungs. The vape ‘juices’ usually contain nicotine, chemicals and ‘flavourings’.
E-Cigs & Vaping
In recent years vaping has become more common. Some people have used these methods to break a smoking habit. There is still a lot of confusion about whether these products are safe or not.
The best advice, for young, growing bodies is not to use these products at all. There is not yet much information on what the long term effects of using vapes will be – so this means young people really should avoid them.
Other Things To Be Aware Of
The safety regulations of these products are not yet as tight as for tobacco products, so it is harder to be sure of what they contain and their safety.
Some recharging equipment for vapes have been found to be a fire risk - it is important to be aware of this danger and to use with care.
It is better to go to a specialist local shop than to buy from the internet to be more certain of their safety.
The move up to secondary school is often the first time that your child is meeting people who you do not know anything about. The schools are bigger, and cover a wider area than primary schools. Your child will have to make decisions about who is good to spend time with, and who they should avoid. Peer pressure can become a real issue, and your child may be pressured to join in with things that you, and they, know are not good for them.
Helping your child feel strong enough to say no to offers of cigarettes is an important first step to a smoke free, healthy life. There are ways that you can increase your child’s chances of making good decisions and not becoming a smoker.
Prepare your child for what their friends might say to tempt them ‘just one won’t hurt’ or ‘smoking is nice when you get used to it’ as well as telling them they will be ‘cool’ or ‘look grown up’.
My Child Is Smoking or Vaping
If you find out your child is smoking you may struggle with a lot of emotions. You may feel angry and disappointed. You will feel worried about their health. It can feel like you have failed as a parent. It may come as a shock, and feel upsetting for you. It is important to know that you can still help your child to stop smoking and there is information and services to support with this.
If possible when you find out take a little time to let it sink in before you talk about it with your child – this way you will have time to calm down and think about how you want to help them. Maybe you found out and reacted in the moment – perhaps you were angry. Don't worry, take some time to calm yourself and decide what you want to do next.
You can say sorry to your child about losing your temper and explain that you felt shocked and worried, but now you want to see how they feel, and think together about what to do next.
Find time when you and your child are both calm to talk this through;
My Child Wants To Stop Smoking
Praise them for making a good decision for a healthy future. Seek help whilst they are positive about quitting - stopping smoking with expert help is 4 times more likely to work than trying alone.
If they have a slip up – reassure them that it does not mean they have failed. Help workout why it happened and carry on. Help them think about how they will reward themselves for their determination. You may want to reward their efforts too!
Your child needs to want to stop. This is really hard for parents because no one can make someone stop smoking until they decide to for themselves. If your child says they do not want to stop – explain you will continue to talk to them about this because you are so worried.
Are there other people in your family, and friend group that your child might find it easier to listen to? Sometimes it is hard for teens to listen to parent’s advice – even when they know they are right!
Smokefree Norfolk offer advice and support for stopping smoking.
You can contact a member of the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors. Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.