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Grandparents have a unique relationship with grandchildren that is founded on love, support, and respect. Seldom are grandparents in a disciplinary roll, which makes communication more fluid and focused, especially important when it comes to discussing poor choices and health effects of any given activity.
Grandparents are key influencers on a child’s sense of identity. The intergenerational connection between grandparent and grandchild could provide the support and encouragement for one child to decline the offer to try tobacco products down the road. Celebrate Grandparent’s Day by discussing the ill effects of smoking.
When speaking of smoking, take time to discuss your own experience with tobacco use. If you experimented with cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, talk of those times and how you felt physically, emotionally, and mentally. If you’ve never tried a tobacco product, explain why. What core values were instilled in you by those who were your influencers.
It might be difficult carrying on a conversation about tobacco use with your grandchildren, but some statistics to keep in mind include:
- Just over 17 per cent of high school students smoke.
- Approximately 5 per cent of middle school students smoke.
- Nearly 3 per cent of middle school students use smokeless tobacco.
- Just under 7 percent of high school students are current smokeless users.
Risk factors for tobacco use, according to the CDC are:
- Low socioeconomic status
- Aggressive behaviors
- Low self-image, self-esteem, academic achievement
- Having friends that smoke
- A perception that tobacco use is normal and acceptable
- Having one or more direct influence (parent, grandparent, guardian, older sibling) who smokes
Health risks associated with smoking include (CDC):
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Multiple cancers (lung, bladder, throat, mouth, pancreas, etc)
- Developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Death – Over 400,000 smoking-related deaths in the United States per year and 5.4 million deaths globally
You can make a difference in the lives of young children. More than 80 per cent of adult smokers began using tobacco during their teen years.
As a grandparent, if you smoke, take the initiative to change your own life through cessation, NRT’s, or finding a cleaner alternative. You can set a positive image in motion for your granddaughter or grandson to ensure that they find the best start to living a long, healthy, smoke-free life.
Don’t forget to stop by and submit your picture for a $50 Gift Certificate from The Safecig!