What are the other prevention programs for children?
The No Tobacco Use Program (TNT Program)
Muskegon County, Michigan developed its own tobacco prevention program, called the TNT Program. Upon completion of the program, the prevalence of tobacco use among teens declined.
The American Stop Smoking Intervention (ASSIST)
The American Cancer Society partnered with the National Cancer Institute and local health departments to launch the ASSIST program in a number of communities. It is a multimodal approach to prevention and smoking cessation. The interventions include the media to increase pro-tobacco-control coverage, strengthening indoor clean air laws, and reducing youth access to tobacco.
ASPIRE is another smoking prevention school- based program. It includes a CD-ROM animation-based curriculum developed at the University of Texas Science Center at Houston. It is an interactive school curriculum with animation and video game elements, targeted to students in the 10th to 12th grades. The topical outline includes:
The short- and long-term effects of smoking
The addictive nature of smoking
Society's move from smoking as an acceptable activity to now when it is unacceptable
The Youth Tobacco Prevention Policies and Programs in Schools and Communities, developed by The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
DHHS developed a curriculum for Tobacco Prevention in the public schools. They advised the use of peer educators and parents to teach children about the effects of smoking. DHHS suggested that the consequences of smoking on school grounds should be clearly communicated to all students, should involve both school officials and law enforcement, and should be consistently applied. Prevention programs should be across grade levels and should include health and social issues, resistance skills, and the influence of advertising on people's choices. Besides classroom teaching, they recommended the establishment of a peer-to-peer mentoring program to support abstinence. Other suggestions are to supplement classroom education using the Internet and other media sources. The Internet has great appeal to young people because it provides an environment that can be graphically appealing, anonymous, and non-judgmental. It can also provide ongoing support.
Other smoking cessation programs may not be exactly like the DARE program but have similar components. Many schools have integrated tobacco and drug prevention into their health courses rather than having a stand-alone program. Communities and schools have joined forces to develop programs that use a multimodal approach, are culturally sensitive, and meet the needs of their population.
How old should my child be before I talk to him or her about smoking?
If you wait until they are preteens, it may be too late.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that parents start a dialogue with their children about the use of tobacco by ages 5 or 6. Continue talking to your children through high school. If you wait until they are preteens, it may be too late. Many kids start using tobacco by age 11 years and many are addicted by age 14. Parents, grandparents, coaches, teachers, and other adults should keep communication ongoing and openly discuss tobacco and other drugs. Introduce the subject of smoking when a child is very young in simple language according to the child's developmental age and in terms that the child can understand.
How do I talk to my child about smoking?
The following guidelines will help you communicate with your child.
Clearly state your own values.
Focus on the immediate short-term consequences, such as bad breath, smelly clothes, yellow teeth, and poor performance in sports. Only discuss long-term consequences with teens, who understand the concept of links between tobacco use and disease and death.
Be a good role model. Actions speak louder than words. Kids do what you do and not what you say. If you do smoke, then do not smoke in front of your children and don't leave cigarettes where they can be easily reached. If a toddler eats cigarettes, it can be fatal. The best thing you can do for your child is to quit. Tell your children the reasons why you do not want them to smoke. Be honest. Share your mistakes. If you do smoke, tell them about your own struggles with addiction. Tell why you wish you had never started. Know that you may be effective in preventing your child from smoking, if you do quit. One-third of the children whose parents quit smoking are less likely to smoke.
Help children to cope with life's stressors. Listen, empathize, be supportive, and allow them to express their feelings. "Feelings are OK." Build their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Discuss problems and teach problem-solving skills. Allow them to make some of their own decisions that are age appropriate.
Make household rules clear. Be consistent. Spell out the consequences for breaking the rules and do not hesitate to enforce them when necessary.
Monitor the TV programs they watch, movies your child attends, the magazines they read, computer games they play, and their use of the Internet. Talk about how advertisers glamorize smoking and drinking and that the information found in advertisements gives a false impression.
Participate in family dinners, family rituals, bedtime rituals, and family games and outings. Family togetherness is a great preventative strategy.
Teach your children how to cope with peer pressure. Most of the difficulties that children have to face are the social pressures from other kids. Practice with your child and/or role-play examples of how to handle peer pressure.
Parents are the most important resource in preventing teen substance abuse, including smoking.