There are lots of reasons to quit smoking, but the best reason is your children. They want you around! They want you to be healthy, happy, and live a long life. They want you to stop smoking – and I am sure they have told you so. But . . . that is not all. There is another reason that is equally as important.
Recent studies have shown that the children of smokers are much more likely to smoke themselves. A study from the University of Washington found that 12-year-old children of smokers are twice as likely to start smoking at some point from the age of 13 to 21. So – how do you keep your children from smoking?
Kids learn by example. What you say is a far weaker influence than what you do. Even if you talk to them about the dangers of smoking and emphasize how you wish you had never started, the fact that you are still smoking is a much stronger message. The chance that they will also become smokers is much greater than for children of non-smokers. You are their role model – so model what you want them to follow – not what you DO NOT want them to follow.
I do not want to discourage you from talking to your children, however. It is certainly better than not talking to them about the habit, even if you are a smoker. Even though some children will still smoke, studies show that parents who warn their kids of the dangers of smoking or tell them they wish they hadn’t started decrease the chances their children will smoke.
Why the Children of Smokers Smoke
Smokers smoke all the time, so the behavior is ever-present in the lives of your children. You probably also leave cigarettes lying around the house and in the car. The cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia are normal fixtures of their lives. Smoking as a way of life is part of their enculturation.
The children of smokers aren’t only more likely to smoke, it becomes a gateway drug for other addictions. Research shows they are more likely to drink and use drugs at a young age; and are more likely to have behavioral problems and get into trouble at school.
Other Influencing Factors
Asking your children to get your cigarettes or to light your cigarette greatly increases the chances that they will smoke. Such actions develop a comfort level with the habit. Studies show that the more contact kids have with cigarettes, the more likely they are to try them.
A Good Reason to Quit
The University of Washington study produced all kinds of interesting data on this issue, but the bottom line is: When parents smoke, it is the biggest factor in children choosing to smoke. No peer or societal influence comes close.
If you are a smoker and want to keep your children from smoking, the good news is: The children of parents who quit smoking are less likely to start smoking than children of parents who never smoked. How is that for a great reason to quit?