Tobacco and e-cigarette use in youth remains a concern. Prevention is key.

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.

E-cigarette use among youth is also increasing rapidly.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of disease, death and disability in B.C. and quitting smoking is hard. Preventing youth from starting to smoke in the first place is essential to curb the tobacco epidemic. Tobacco contains nicotine, one of the most addictive substances known to man. It also contains a variety of carcinogens.

How addictive is nicotine?

Children and youth become addicted to nicotine at lower levels than adults and can start craving cigarettes within just three months after their first cigarette.

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.

Should I worry if my child to quit smoking?

Yes. Smokeless tobacco may be considered “safer” or less addictive, however, some of these products may contain more nicotine than cigarettes.

  • Smokeless tobacco is linked to an increase in nose, throat and ear cancers.
  • E-cigarettes are unregulated and their vapour may irritate respiratory conditions.
  • E-cigarettes have been linked to an increase in smoking.

How can I support my child to quit smoking?

Remember that quitting smoking is hard, no matter what your age. Be supportive and expect setbacks. Here are some ways you can be a role model and offer support:

  • 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 and e-cigarettes and the risks of being exposed to second-hand smoke and vapour.
  • Be open and honest about tobacco use. Try to understand their beliefs around smoking and challenge these perceptions.
  • 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.