Wednesday, August 1, 2007

keep child from taking up smoking

When Children Smoke -

Life is full of decisions, and one of them is whether or not to smoke cigarettes. Unfortunately, the decision to smoke is made by some people at an early age. It's not unusual for pediatricians and family physicians to discover that the twelve-year-old youngster with recurring sinus problems, bronchitis, and viral infections has a pack-a-day cigarette habit.

Children who spend a lot of time alone and whose parents are not actively involved in their lives, are more likely to take up smoking. Youngsters with low self-esteem, who are easily influenced by older kids, may smoke in order to feel accepted by their peers. They often begin their smoking habit by asking their older friends for cigarettes, and by swiping cigarettes from their parents who smoke.

Where the damage begins

As with adults, the biggest impact of cigarettes is on the child's lungs. Our respiratory tracts are covered with cilia (tiny hairs on the tissue surface) which are constantly in motion, sweeping out particles, dust, and pollution from the respiratory system. When the cilia are damaged by cigarette smoke and tar, the young smoker develops a cough in order to expel the foreign matter that is now collecting in the lungs and bronchial tubes.

Eventually, smoking has an impact on the youngster's athletic performance, because the lungs' ability to move air quickly in and out becomes impaired. While some of this impairment is reversible if the individual stops smoking by age 20 or 25, in heavy smokers a percentage of the damage will be permanent even after quitting.

Why children smoke

We know that children take up smoking for different reasons. The most commonly shared factor among young smokers is the influence of adults closest to them. When children see their parents smoke, they deduce that smoking is an acceptable, adult thing to do. This conclusion is reinforced by what they see in the marketing media. Magazines, newspapers, and billboard images tell them that smoking is attractive, sexy, and cool: it's a very macho thing to do if you are a young boy, and it makes young girls glamorous and thin.

How we prevent our children

The single best thing parents can do to prevent their children from becoming smokers is to not smoke themselves. If you are a parent who smokes, quit now. By quitting, you will send a very positive message to your children. In effect you are saying: It is not okay to do something that is harmful to your body just because it feels good. Setting a good example for your kids is the best way to teach them to make smart choices.


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