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deepdivercwa55m's avatar

What would you do to your son/daughter if you figured out he/she smokes?

Asked by deepdivercwa55m (353points) October 8th, 2009

I believe i should talk to him/her. Like you are too young for this, your health is in danger, but what if he/she doesn’t listen to me and continue?? I don’t think that violence is the best solution. What do you think??

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32 Answers

cyn's avatar

You know you can ask 3 questions per day? I need to get a rest! And somehow, I think you’re going to get modded.
Anyway, how young of a kid/Child are we talking about?

mattbrowne's avatar

Point out it’s normal to try it a few times. Curiosity is okay. Then point out the dire consequences. Becoming addicted is like going to prison losing one’s freedom. After a while the positive feelings related to smoking will disappear. Then people have no choice but to continue to smoke just to be able to feel normal. Smokers would still tell you they feel great after smoking a cigarette, but it’s an illusion. It’s like you’re hitting your head hard and when applying some ice you’re glad the pain goes away. Who would argue that deliberately hitting your head is a great idea because ice can take care of it?

The best strategy actually is to arrange a meeting with a real chain smoker who quit. He or she should tell the story of their lives. This works very well in schools who also invite alcoholics and ask them to talk to students and answer their questions. I think it should also be tried with smoking.

Pointing out health dangers is extremely ineffective. There’s only one that has some effects on young males: “Smoking may lead to impotence”. There are reports that when male smokers buy a pack of cigarettes in shops and notice the warning label “Smoking may lead to impotence” they ask the sales clerk to give them a different pack. I’m not kidding. There was a report in a German newspaper recently. One smoker actually said “I’ll rather have the one with lung cancer” (label) returning the other pack.

Roory's avatar

My uncle once caught my cousin smoking… and he went out and bought a packet of cigarettes and told my cousin” you wanna smoke ,here you go. smoke all of this right now” ... and made him smoke till he finished the whole box… my cousin was soo ashamed, upset, and sick from all the smoke that he smoked no more !!
It was an amazing !!

Thammuz's avatar

Tell him/her that he/she is a dumbass, and have him pay his own cigarettes. Also he/she wouldn’t be allowed to smoke in the house. That aside there’s really not much i can do about it until the little nitwit realizes it’s a stupid and harmful behaviour.

cookieman's avatar

We would head down to Mass. General’s oncology department and volunteer some time in the chemo lounge (getting magazines, drinks, etc.)

RareDenver's avatar

@dimitris said I don’t think that violence is the best solution.

Glad to hear it.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I like cprevite‘s answer a lot. Lecturing will do no good, in fact, with teenagers, it probably will have the opposite of the intended affect. However, showing them the long-term affects of smoking could be quite helpful, the cancer ward, maybe visiting some people with emphysema and/or anchored to an oxygen tank, and some pictures of black lungs might do the trick. Teenagers are a tough crowd, though, they think they’re invincible and that none of that health stuff will ever apply to them (I know I did!).

filmfann's avatar

My two daughters smoke. My son doesn’t. I don’t know what the difference was there, since I taught them the same way.
Last year my brother (who smoked) had a heart attack. I took the kids to the hospital, to show them what happens. They were shocked that my big, tough, brother was so weakend.
My daughter stopped smoking immediately, and my other is trying.

Tink's avatar

@dimitris Woah! Are you my mom?

Was you child smoking cigaretts or weed?

Fyrius's avatar


And I should insert some pun about people smoking when they burn here, but I can’t get the delivery right. Whatever.

In all seriousness, just talk to them about it and keep an open mind.
Smoking is not in itself “bad”. It’s not very healthy, but choosing a somewhat shorter life with cigarettes over a somewhat longer one without them is a legitimate decision. The relevant issue is whether the child is mature enough to make a decision like that.

gussnarp's avatar

I like to believe that my son will never smoke, just because of the example we set as parents and how we respond to smoking when we see it. That’s probably a pipe dream, but I will say that I would seriously crack down if I caught my child smoking. I realize this can backfire, but it is one of few cases where I would be extremely strict. I’m not sure what consequences I would use, but violence would not be one of them. I can smell cigarette smoke a mile away, so there’s no way he could hide it. He would certainly not smoke in my home, any cigarettes I found would be destroyed, and he would not spend any time with friends who smoked. I would also cut off any access to money he had. That’s all a last resort, if he continued after being talked to about it. Of course by the time he’s that age emphysema or lung cancer will likely have killed his grandfather, and I would make it quite clear that smoking killed three generations of men in our family before him. I have heard of @Roory‘s approach of making them smoke a whole pack, but I think that can backfire too. I never smoked that much, but I smoked myself into vomiting when I used to smoke, and I kept doing it anyway.

gussnarp's avatar

@Fyrius It’s not about a somewhat shorter life versus a somewhat longer one, it’s about quality of life. My father can’t walk up a flight of stairs, he can’t take his grandson to the zoo because it’s too hilly and he can’t handle walking around there. And it may be a legitimate decision, but it’s not a rational one, nor is it one a child should be making. If you aren’t old enough to decide to give up your life for your country, then you certainly aren’t old enough to decide to give up your life to make other people rich.

shego's avatar

14 is the normal age for that type of curiosity. That doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong in your teachings. He is experimenting. I was 14 when I started experimenting. It is really a crucial time, where you need to spend more time with him. Be there to support him.
I was in a program called Young Marines, and the Gunny Sgt. put a bucket over my head, and made us smoke cigars. Then he made us run 2 mi. I will tell you what. We couldn’t breath, we were miserable, and now we are only social smokers. In other word 1–2 times a month. Only when we drink.

eponymoushipster's avatar

smack some sense into the kid -

get some educational videos on what smoking does to your body and show him/her. in canada, they put pictures of diseased lungs, etc. ON the cig packets. it’s disgusting.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@Roory lol my mother did that to my brother when he was younger, smoked the whole pack, worked like a charm, he can’t even be around cigarettes to this very day lol.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I can tell you what does not work. Do not give in and start buying cigs for your kid. I saw so many parents just give-in when I was a teen. They figure that at least they are stopping their kids from stealing them or breaking the law by saying they are 18 when they aren’t, etc.. That belief system really has little support behind it and honestly it becomes enabling to the child.

What can you do? Everyone I know who smokes would not stop just because someone said something to them. This was true as a teen as well. I don’t know one person who didn’t smoke because their parents didn’t want them to.

What I think you can do is have a talk with your teen. Explain your feelings and the dangers behind smoking. Also show them the consequences. But as others have said teens feel they are invincible so even if you show them the consequences it is likely they will think “can’t happen to me”.

Then tell them that you will absolutely not allow any smoking to go on that you know of. That you will find their cigs, if it means searching pockets and backpacs, and throw them away. And that if you catch them with cigs or smoking you will punish them everytime. Basically that you are not going to make this choice easy for them. But of course you still love them and they should feel free to discuss the topic with you at anytime.

There is a fine balance between punishing and creating a barrier between you and your child. I don’t have any ideas on how to manage that but keeping it in mind could be useful.

tinyfaery's avatar

Tell them how you feel. Inform them of the dangers. Don’t be an enabler. Other than that, what else can you really do? You can’t watch the kid 24/7. You can’t tie them up and force them to do what you want. Bad decision or not, it’s your kid’s decision. I’m sure they’ll make a lot of decisions you don’t agree with. Time to prepare.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

@Roory my teacher’s friend’s dad did that to his son once, but it didn’t work, because the kid knew that he wasn’t going to get sick every time he smoked, because he wouldn’t be smoking like 20 cigarettes at a time.
though i suppose it might work on some people.

mistered's avatar

I’d make them smoke until they threw up so they’d never want to smoke again.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Fyrius – Would argue that losing your freedom is bad.

Fyrius's avatar

Who are you to judge that smoking is not a rational decision?
And you’re not “giving up” your life for anything or anyone. Giving up your life means dying right then and there. At worst, smoking shortens it. But, as we tend to forget, we’re all going sooner or later. With that in mind, you can either deny yourself certain pleasures so you can delay the inevitable as much as possible, or you can choose a life with less quantity and more quality. Or a compromise.
And each of those possibilities is a legitimate decision. Legitimate here meaning “not stupid”.
Longevity is not the only thing worth striving for in life. In fact I think many psychological issues of modern Western people would be solved or lessened if people would accept death as a natural part of life, rather than abhor it as something terrible.

I agree it’s not the sort of thing a child should be making permanent decisions on. I agree it’s unhealthy. But I think you shouldn’t disrespect smokers like you seem to.
I suggested open-mindedness before. I repeat that suggestion.
Open-mindedness means shutting down your emotions for a second and calmly, rationally and sincerely pondering whether your opinions are really justified. I see a lot of emotional arguments in your post.

If you’re going to say that, you better have a splendid explanation how cigarettes have anything to do with a loss of freedom.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Fyrius – Here’s the explanation again: after a while the positive feelings related to smoking will disappear. Then people have no choice but to continue to smoke (i.e. they are not free) just to be able to feel normal. Smokers would still tell you they feel great after smoking a cigarette, but it’s an illusion. It’s like you’re hitting your head hard and when applying some ice you’re glad the pain goes away. Who would argue that deliberately hitting your head is a great idea because ice can take care of it?

Fyrius's avatar

People have stopped smoking before. It’s a challenge, but it’s possible. And that’s enough for the freedom still to be there.
Although it’s easier to start smoking than to quit, making the freedom of the choice greater when you’re not doing it yet.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Fyrius – Yes, and prisoners at some point could leave early. Good conduct helps. This metaphor would stand for high motivation and a strong will. I see addiction as a prison.

gussnarp's avatar

@Fyrius I will admit to using some emotional arguments, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that in this case. You seem fixated on the “give up your life” comment, but I started the paragraph with ” It’s not about a somewhat shorter life versus a somewhat longer one, it’s about quality of life”. Quality of life, not dying tomorrow or a few year earlier. I also acknowledged that smoking was a “legitimate” decision, basically because I don’t see any way out of it, it’s legal, you can do it, fine. I will not discuss whether it is stupid either, but you cannot defend smoking on the basis of rationality. “Rational” can mean a lot of things, but the simplest one is “based on reason”. A decision to smoke is not based on reason, it is base more on emotion than any of my arguments. Let’s take a rational approach to decision making on smoking. We will analyze the pros and cons of the decision, and weigh which side is better. That sounds rational.
Greater risk of:
lung cancer
heart disease
a number of other cancers
It makes you smell bad
It stains your teeth and makes them ugly
it will give you particularly unattractive wrinkles in the long term
If you are an American, you just eliminated the majority of women from potential dating partners, unless you manage to quit
likely cost of cigarettes in a year: $1800
decreased lung capacity and cardiovascular fitness
you will almost certainly want to quit someday, which you will find difficult and possible expensive since you will be physically and mentally addicted
That’s off the top of my head, I’m sure a much more extensive list could be compiled.


So, there you have it, a rational analysis of the decision to smoke. Seems that smoking does not measure up.

OK, you’re going to want to throw something in Pros, I know, so here you go:

Helps you fit in or look cool. OK, but that’s not really rational, if a clique doesn’t like you, smoking won’t make them. If they do, not smoking won’t change that. The large population (in the U.S. at least) is made up of a vast majority of non-smokers, so they will only like you less for smoking, since you will smell and have ugly teeth. The effects of peer pressure are based purely on emotion and are in no way rational.

Feels good. The first cigarette is not a pleasant experience, it takes work to make you enjoy it. The buzz is more like feeling sick than any kind of pleasant high. It only feels good when you have become addicted, because not having it feels bad because you are addicted. If you ever manage to break the addiction, you will find you feel better every day than you ever did from smoking. So, feeling good does not play a role, because when you try it, it will not feel good. Rationally, you should believe your own experience here rather than assume that eventually it will feel good.

So if you still think smoking is rational, then we clearly don’t agree on what rational means.

Tink's avatar

So it is cigaretts and not marijuana?

Fyrius's avatar

Well, you’ve done your homework, I’ll grant you that. Thoroughly enough to provide an impressive stack of justifications for your position, most of which I can’t refute and won’t belittle.
I accept your argument.

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – Several smokers I know have actually mentioned the following “pro argument”: Smoking helps them maintain a normal BMI. Some of them were able to quit for a few weeks and became overweight. When the urge became too strong they resumed their habit and lost the extra weight. Voilà. I know the subject is controversial, but since you are very knowledgeable in this field I’m curious about your view.

gussnarp's avatar

@mattbrowne I’ve heard this argument before, and if someone really feels that they get enough weight loss benefit from smoking to be worth the costs, then I suppose you could say I’ve missed a pro argument there. On the other hand, it raises three main questions: First, is this about the physical appearance, or about the health risks of being overweight? If it’s the health risks, you have to ask which is going to be more detrimental to your health, and I am not informed enough to answer that one, especially since it changes on a case by case basis, I expect. Second, if they had never smoked, which weight would they be at? Is this a problem created by being addicted to cigarettes in the first place? And third, with enough time away from cigarettes would they be able to return to a normal BMI? I think there is some research out there on points two and three, but I don’t really know for sure.

mattbrowne's avatar

@gussnarp – Thanks for sharing your insights. Well, I’m also not an expert of this subject, but my intuition tells me that the risk of inhaling thousand of chemicals outweighs the risk of being slightly overweight. Obesity though, like smoking will on average also take 5–10 years of people’s lives.

BeccaBoo's avatar

My 16yr old son smokes. He is not doing drugs and i know he is drinking at parties! He rolled in the other day (after he had finished work, where he wears a bunny suit all day long and waves at kids) and showed me his new tongue piercing. Now he wants a tattoo and is dead set on getting a motorbike.

My son is someone i am very proud of, he is clever, hardworking, hangs about with a nice group of lads and is for his age pretty good at not making me angry.

I don’t like that he is smoking, but i am not going to scream at him about it, i told him how i feel and he said he could be doing worse! (he is only smoking tobacco)

His tongue piercing he will take out when the rugby season starts again! (this i know as they will rib him)

His motorbike is a fad! But if he can save up and pay for the whole lot my answer “knock yourself out lad”

A tattoo…...wait until your 18!!! It’s not happening.

Kids want it all and we were all there once ( i know i was a lot worse than my son and put my mother through hell) but we need to give them a little slack for them to work out their own boundaries of whats right and wrong. They all get there, some just take longer than others. I just keep talking to my son, he knows how I feel about all this and part of him agrees anyway.

Good luck

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