Tobacco use in youth remains a concern. Prevention is key.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of disease, death, and disability in B.C. and quitting smoking is hard. Preventing youth from starting to smoke is essential to curb the tobacco epidemic. Tobacco contains nicotine, a very addictive substance, and a variety of carcinogens.

When are tobacco and smoking habits formed?

Tobacco use is most commonly started and established during adolescence and has significant short and long-term health consequences.

  • Nearly nine out of 10 smokers begin smoking by the age of 18.
  • Up to 19 per cent of young people in B.C. between grades six and 12 have tried smoking.
  • Up to 54 per cent of Aboriginal youth use commercial tobacco.

How addictive is nicotine?

Children and youth become addicted to nicotine at lower levels than adults and may start craving cigarettes soon after the start occasional use.

Youth can experience withdrawal symptoms (physical or emotional symptoms) after smoking less than four to five packs of cigarettes.

Nicotine can have long-term and harmful health consequences on a child and teenager’s developing brain. Tobacco use can lead to addiction, as well as mood disorders later in adulthood.

How can I support my child to quit smoking?

Remember that quitting smoking is hard, regardless of age. Be supportive and expect setbacks. Here are some ways you can be a role model and offer support:

  • Be open and honest about tobacco use. Try to understand their beliefs around smoking and challenge these perceptions.
  • If you are a smoker, try quitting smoking for your own health and the health of your children.
  • If you are a smoker, never smoke around your children to avoid exposing them to second-hand smoke.
  • Keep tobacco products out of reach of children and youth.
  • Educate children and teens on the dangers of using tobacco 
  • Talk to your family doctor for advice and resources.

Smoking and youth oral health and wellness

Over half of teenagers who smoke become addicted, which can harm their physical and oral health. Learn the facts about smoking and youth health.



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