Kids Using Tobacco: Why Kids Smoke and the Risk of Using Tobacco

Tooth Character

There is a number of health risks associated with smoking, yet teenagers continue to smoke and/or use smokeless tobacco. Each day, there are approximately 3900 children between the ages 12-17 smoke their first cigarette. Over 950 of them will become regular smokers and about half of them will die from smoking in adulthood. For these reasons, it is essential that children understand the dangers associated with smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco.

Why Kids Begin Smoking

There are several reasons why children may start smoking. Some of the most common reasons children may be attracted to smoking and/or chewing tobacco include:

  • To act older
  • To lose weight
  • To look cool
  • To do something dangerous
  • To satisfy curiosity
  • To appear tough
  • To feel independent
  • To win tobacco related merchandise

Signs Your Child May Be Smoking

It is essential as a parent to establish good communication with children early to make tricky issues, like smoking, easier. Giving children information about the risks associated with smoking may help to protect them from this unhealthy habit. Ask your child’s dentist to talk with them about the risks to their oral health from smoking and if you suspect your child may be using tobacco products, make sure they see a kid’s dentist as soon as possible. Warning signs your child is smoking may include:

  • Odor of smoke on their clothing
  • Bad breath
  • Frequent complaints of throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Decrease in their athletic performance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stained and/or yellow teeth

The Oral and Physical Health Risks of Tobacco Use

Smoking and/or using smokeless tobacco kills hundreds of people each year. Tobacco contains nicotine and several other poisonous chemicals that cause a range of diseases, including heart problems and cancer. Tobacco use can have a significant impact on the overall oral health of a child. Some of the effects of smoking and using smokeless tobacco may include:

  • Throat cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum disease
  • Stained teeth

To help prevent your children from using tobacco products, it is important to discuss the issue in a way that doesn’t make kids fear a punishment or feel as though they are being judged. It is also important to continue talking to children about the dangers of tobacco use throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Discuss ways your child can respond to smoking and peer pressure and encourage their self-confidence, which will help protect them against peer pressure. Visit a kids’ dentist with your child for more information on the dangers of smoking and oral health.

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