For Parents and Teachers

Children and Smoking

Each day in the United States, 3,200 kids under age 18 smoke their first cigarette.

Children start smoking for a variety of reasons. Some think it makes them look cool, appear older, fit in with other kids, lose weight, or seem tough. Some do it just to feel independent. Some do it just because they’ve seen it all their life and think it’s normal.

You should start the dialogue about tobacco use at age 5 or 6, and continue it through the high school years. Many kids start using tobacco by age 11, and many are addicted by age 14.


Prevention Tips

  • Discuss tobacco use in a way that doesn’t make kids fear punishment or judgement
  • Make tobacco use an ongoing conversation – talk and listen patiently
  • Encourage teens to get involved in activities that prohibit smoking, such as sports
  • Discuss ways to respond to peer pressure (hint: self-confidence is a child’s best protection!)
  • Establish firm rules for your household that exclude tobacco use
  • If you smoke, quit. Explain to your child the consequences of your smoking. Talk to your kids about how difficult it is to quit smoking and how much easier it would have been if you’d never started smoking in the first place.

Student Assistance Programs

TFA collaborates with Addiction Medicine Services (AMS) of WPIC, UPMC to provide consultation and technical assistance to schools as they address the state requirements for preventing tobacco use.  Utilizing the existing Student Assistance Programs (SAP) in schools, the AMS staff facilities the incorporation of tobacco issues into existing policies and procedures.  This effort assists schools to implement 100% tobacco free school policies that includes increased support for intervention and cessation services for youth who use tobacco products.  AMS staff is available to work intensively with schools on an individual coaching basis.  AMS staff can provide on-site training and technical assistance for SAP personnel as they revise school policies and procedures and revise SAP protocols around tobacco use.

For more information about SAP Trainings, please contact:

Addiction Medicine Services

TRU: Tobacco Resistance Unit

The Tobacco Resistance Unit is a movement throughout all of Pennsylvania to help youth, ages 12 to 18, stay tobacco and nicotine free. For more information, visit our TRU page.

E-Cigarette Toolkit

E-cigarettes are very popular with youth, and their use is growing dramatically. Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes, and the use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults. Our free toolkit can help you to implement educational programming regarding e-cigarettes for faculty, students, and staff. Click here to learn more.

My Life, My Quit

My Life, My Quit is an enhanced tobacco and vaping cessation program for teens under age 18 who want to stop using tobacco products, especially electronic cigarettes like JUUL. It’s freeconfidential, and just for teens. For more information, click here.

Additional Resources