Sure, larger-than-life images projected onto the silver screen are alluring, but that doesn’t mean you will lose your preteen to dangerous habits portrayed glamorously in the movies. The best strategies for combating the glitz of Hollywood portrayals of tobacco use begin at home.
Leading by example is the most effective way to communicate to your preteen that smoking is not a wise life decision. No matter what kids see on the screen or what they hear in music, the way their parents conduct themselves can make the most significant impact on children’s lives. Maintaining a smoke-free home sends a clear message that smoking is not acceptable.
Avoid Smoking Look
Having established your home as a smoke-free zone, don’t be afraid to start the tobacco discussion with your child at an early age. The conversation can be easy, interesting, and lifesaving. One important thing to note: Science is on your side. No matter how cool a movie can make smoking look, there is nothing a film can do to contradict the scientific evidence that tobacco use leads to potentially fatal consequences.
When watching a movie that depicts tobacco use favorably (or even unfavorably), introduce the topic into your post-movie discussion. Ask your children how they felt about the characters who smoked. Then, compare and contrast the movie’s message with real-life consequences of cigarette smoke. If the conversation doesn’t go as well as you would like and your child doubts your grasp on reality, there is no shortage of online anti-tobacco information and videos at your fingertips. Watching a video of somebody whose entire jaw had to be removed because of oral cancer can leave a stronger impression than any movie star smoking a cigarette.
Of course, no matter how you run your household, your child may face peer pressure from classmates whose only concern is fitting in. This is the true litmus test of how well prepared your child is. If, as parents, you’ve created a smoke-free household, discussed the dangers of smoking, and even gone over strategies for tobacco refusal, your child will be well on the way to a tobacco-free life.