Did you know: most adult smokers started smoking when they were kids? Kids may try smoking because it seems cool or they think it will make them look older. The danger of trying cigarettes at such a young age is that it leads to a lifelong bad habit.
As a parent, you can help keep your teenager from picking up the habit by clearly communicating the dangers of smoking. But even if you explain the negative consequences of smoking, there is still a chance your teenager will try it. Here are four signs that your teenager may be smoking:
- Bad Breath. If your teenager has “smoker’s breath” or is constantly trying to cover it up by chewing gum or eating breath mints, this could be a sign they are smoking.
- Yellow Teeth. Even brushing teeth and using mouthwash can’t combat the negative effects of smoking on the teeth. If you notice your teenager’s teeth are starting to become yellow, that is an almost certain sign they are smoking.
- Chronic Cough. Throat irritation, hoarseness and a chronic cough can all be signs that someone is smoking on a regular basis. If other illnesses have been ruled out, and other signs of smoking are present, your teenager’s cough may be a result of smoking.
- Short Temper. If your teenager seems on edge but can be magically “cured” by stepping outside alone for a few minutes, this can be a sign that they are smoking. When a person is addicted to nicotine, they become edgy when the effects wear off. Having a cigarette will “take the edge off” and the person will appear much more relaxed and congenial afterward.
If you see these signs or others and suspect your teenager is smoking, resist the urge to overreact. Focus instead on communicating the reasons smoking is never a good choice. Remind your child that being smoke-free means better athletic fitness, less money spent, a better appearance and freedom from addiction. If your child needs help to quit smoking, talk to their doctor about support and treatment plans. Looking for a pediatrician or family doctor who can help? Visit Riley at IU Health to find expert, compassionate care near you.