Here are the facts for you who want to support your child to say no to all forms of tobacco. Interspersed with knowledge, there are also reflection questions that you can raise with your child. The idea is that the questions will contribute to an important conversation about nicotine addiction, and all forms of nicotine products. The goal is for your child to gain their own motivation to say no and be better equipped to withstand peer pressure.
The tobacco industry has been striving for over 100 years to make money making young people addicted to nicotine, and they have a number of well-developed strategies aimed at enticing your child to try tobacco. As you probably know, your child does not get any health benefits or financial benefits from being an addict. Rather, it has many negative consequences, both in the short and long term. It is not certain that your child realizes this and therefore it is important that you help him to reflect on it.
Brief facts about tobacco use
Tobacco is no longer just about cigarettes and brown snus but also e-cigarettes, puff bars, and white snus (or so-called nicotine bags). New products are constantly coming out on the market. Common to all the products is that they contain nicotine which is highly addictive.
Almost all addicted adults became so when they were teenagers. If you can help your child to abstain from tobacco until he or she turns 20, it means a reduced risk of addiction in adulthood. It is a great benefit for your child, both financially and health-wise.
Brief facts about nicotine
The latest research shows that the use of nicotine during adolescence or early adulthood rebuilds and creates lasting changes in the brain. This is because the brain has not had time to be fully developed and is therefore more sensitive to nicotine.
Nicotine use has a negative effect on children’s concentration and memory, and increases the risk of mental illness. Children and adolescents who use nicotine products are also more susceptible to infections and also get easier headaches and stomach aches. This means that they get more school absenteeism, which risks affecting school results. It has also been shown that children who are addicted to nicotine have an easier time starting with other drugs, such as cannabis.
Here you and your child can watch a short animated film about nicotine (1.44 min) Reflect on the content together. Please note specifically that even products called tobacco-free are full of nicotine – which is addictive.
This is how children are attracted
The tobacco industry uses various tricks to recruit children and huge amounts of money are invested in marketing – $ 1 million per hour globally. Among other things, there is a massive impact on social media, which most parents do not know about, and child locks, for example, via their channels on Tik Tok and Instagram. There, influencers, on behalf of the tobacco companies, show new nicotine products that children become curious about. These are available with thousands of enticing flavors, the packaging is nicely designed with nice colors. It is easy for children to order new products at home, such as puff bars, white snus and e-cigarettes, even if they are under 18 years old. The deliveries are either so neutral that parents do not react or the children pick them up via postal agents. As a parent, it is extremely difficult to have an overview of what the children see and do.
Ask your child/children how often they see different nicotine and tobacco products on their social media, how they are produced and how they (or their friends) are affected by it, show that you understand that it can be easy to miss that the products are dangerous – because they are so colorful and flavored with the same types of flavors as, for example, sweets – but help your child reflect on how he can do to remind himself how important it is to say no.
You as a parent/guardian are an important support for your child to be able to say no. Because it’s not an easy thing. The group pressure among children is great and when you want to fit in, it is easy to give in. Tobacco has been used by teenagers for many years as a marker for them to start growing up. It used to be ”cool” to smoke, now many young people think it is cool to also use snus and e-cigarettes. And even if you yourself do not think so, maybe even friends do. There is a great risk that your child will start because someone at school offers nicotine products.
Talk to your child about peer pressure. Feel free to share if you yourself have any memories from your teenage years about it. It does not matter if you fell for the peer pressure or if you managed to resist. All experiences are rewarding for your child to talk about. Feel free to play role-playing games where your child gets to practice saying no when you play a friend who is trying to invite.
Get support from other parents
Being a parent is great, but it is also difficult. The teenage period can be a little extra tricky. The children become more independent and you as a parent / guardian get less insight into the children’s private sphere. You no longer have any natural meeting places where you meet other parents and it can sometimes feel lonely to deal with all the issues that arise. Feel free to contact some other parents, mothers and fathers of friends of your children, and talk about how you can help to prevent your children from becoming addicted. You can also raise the issue at the school’s parent meetings. And you, tell me you did it for your kids. Maybe your child shows some irritation, but remember that deep down, children are happy when they notice that their parents are getting involved.
All children are different. However, research shows that it is effective to ban your child from using tobacco. However, you do not have to start at that end, but can instead first ask your child how you can best act to help him not become addicted. After you have talked about it, you can say that you, out of consideration, also forbid your child to use all kinds of nicotineproducts.
Dare to be hard
It is never possible to know when your particular child will be exposed to tobacco on their social media, or be pressured to try it by friends. Therefore, it is good if you raise the issue of tobacco regularly. Even you who use tobacco yourself can do it. Maybe your child will question why you try to help him say no, when you yourself snuff or smoke. You can then explain that you know what it’s like to be a nicotinist, and do not want your child to be one too. Also, think about how you talk about tobacco products when your children are around. If you lift snus as something harmless, the risk increases that your child will also start.
More arguments that can motivate your teen
Your child may not care how a nicotine addiction would affect their health or finances. But then there are several other things to talk about. One argument that may motivate your teen to give up is that it is common for children to be exploited in tobacco production. In fact, it is so horrible that many children die every year because they have been poisoned by nicotine and pesticides in the tobacco fields. Another argument that can go awry is that all tobacco products harm the environment.
Here you and your child can watch a short animated film about how tobacco harms the environment (1.26 min) Reflect on the content together.
If your child does not accept the above argument, you can try to lift tobacco use from an economic perspective. Ask how much different nicotineproducts cost and talk about how much a daily use would cost your child economically. Ask your teen what they would rather do for that money.
Sign to increase the protection of children
This support material has been developed as part of the Laws for All Children’s Future campaign. The campaign aims to influence politicians to legislate to protect children from addiction and thereby help them say no. You can be involved in influencing tobacco policy by signing a petition. Read more and sign up here!