How to Quit Tobacco
“It started out as an experiment. It was supposed to be fun…something to make me feel part of the group. I never planned to get addicted.”---15 year old student about using tobacco.
No one ever planned to become addicted. Our parents certainly didn’t plan to be hooked to a drug that would rob them of tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime and probably stole their health as well. They didn’t know what they didn’t know. I forgive my parents. They didn’t know. I remember my mom telling me that if I started using tobacco that I wouldn’t be able to stop. I remember thinking that I’d be able to stop anytime I wanted. I was 16 when she gave me permission to smoke and I was a slave to tobacco until I was 40. She was right. If only I’d listened.
We know that nicotine is more addictive than any other substance including cocaine and heroin and kills more people than any other preventable cause of death, i.e. car wrecks, drug overdose, murder and suicide COMBINED. That’s right….over 400 thousand people die each year from illness related to tobacco use. That’s comparable to 3 jumbo jet crashes each day.
I hear all too often that parents are giving their teens permission to smoke because, “at least it’s not a drug”. Giving a young adult permission to use tobacco is probably the single most dangerous decision a parent can make. One out of every three young people that becomes addicted to tobacco will die prematurely from a tobacco related illness. That’s one third. It’s not a pretty statistic, is it?
If your teen is using tobacco, you can help them turn it around. Most importantly, you need to open the door for discussion. Be honest. If you’re a tobacco-using parent, you may feel uncomfortable saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But, parents have the right and an obligation to set limits for the family. There are laws that make it a little easier to set these limits, by the way. Just like there are underage drinking laws there are laws that prohibit youth access to tobacco as well. (RSA 126-K: 1-14)
The New Hampshire Tobacco Resource Center has a toll free number for folks who prefer telephone support. You can call 1-800-TRY-TO-STOP to set up a plan to quit. Here are some websites you might find useful: www.quitnet.com; www.lungusa.org; www.cancer.org; www.thetruth.com; www.streetheory.org; http://www.cheshiretobaccotreatment.com.