*This post was sponsored by Tobacco Free New York State as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I can still recall hearing that distinct sound of my dad clearing his throat early in the morning. This was many years ago. I was only a kid.
But at almost 41 years old, I don’t think I will ever forget that sound. Why? Because I grew up with it.
See my dad was a smoker. He started smoking in his early teen years. This was back in the 1960s when cigarette smoking was portrayed at cool. I mean even on TV many of the hippest stars of that time were shot with a cigarette in their hands on and off camera.
So that throat clearing sound was synonymous with my dad during my formative years. And while I very often was comforted to know that it was indeed only my dad in our home. This was especially true early in the morning when I would just be waking up. Still I can also remember the first time my mom explained that this sound was because my dad was a habitual smoker.
What’s more is as I did grow up, we learned more and more the troubling effects of cigarette smoking, as well as tobacco based products.
The first real awakenings…
One of my favorite uncles was diagnosed with lung cancer and emphysema in my young adult years. He, too, was a long time cigarette smoker. Sadly, he passed away from complications of lung cancer not even a year after he was diagnosed.
After this, I actually begged my dad to quit smoking after this. But his main excuse was that it wasn’t easy to quit. Although he tried a few times with differing methods. Very often, he would return to cigarettes. Old habits die hard.
One of the many times, I nagged him to quit was as my own wedding was drawing nearer. I asked him at the time if walking his only daughter down the aisle was more important that his need for this tobacco based product. Again, he tried and failed in quitting.
Only a few years later, I was pregnant with my first. Once again I challenged him. This time, I asked if being around to see his first grandchild not only be born, but be an integral part of her life as she grew up, was more important to him. Again, he tried. Yet, again he failed.
And just like that…
My oldest was 4 years old and in pre-school. I will never forget when it happened. See this day, it was raining pretty badly. I was putting her into her car seat after pre-school ended. Another grandparent in the parking lot hadn’t seen my car door ajar. She pulled out of her spot and hit the side of my car door, because of this.
It was clearly her fault. She was apologetic and was exchanged info. I went home. My dad was always good with cars and/or fixing them. He worked with them for years. He promised to take a look at my car for me. But the rain prohibited him from getting a clear picture of damage that afternoon. Finally the next morning, the rain finally cleared out. So my dad went to work on my car. When he came in to the house to report his findings, I immediately noticed something wasn’t right. His one side of his face was contorted. I can barely understand his speech.
Later, we found out my dad had suffered from a stroke and major heart attack. The stroke actually suppressed the heart attack after effects.
Yet, we were lucky….
My dad was actually one of the lucky ones. See he lived to tell his tale. Although, he now is on medication for the rest of his life. Plus, he tires very easily. Therefore he very often can be found lounging in the house on the couch or in his favorite arm chair more often than not. Plus, he also is unable to do many of the things that once truly came so easy to him. This includes walking long distances, simple mechanical fixes (such as working on cars as he once loved to do) and more.
Still, he is here with us. My girls now almost 9 and 7 years old still have their “Poppy” as they call him affectionately.
Still we have ‘Seen Enough Tobacco’…
And because of all this, we have made sure to discuss tobacco and cigarette smoking at length with both girls for starters. Having once again grown up in a home where I clearly saw the first hand effects of tobacco with cigarette smoking I can’t help but feel the way I do.
Recently, a sobering statistic was shared with me. Did you know that the average age of a new smoker is 13 years old? Seriously sad but true!
Plus, tobacco companies are actually spending billions to put their products in front of our kids in stores right now. Therefore the more kids see tobacco, it is more likely they could start smoking.
And my almost 9 year old is only 4 years off that age. So, you best believe I have been even more vigilant with this now more than ever.
But still, sadly there is a great push from many different avenues with tobacco on our youth.
And because ALL kids have seen enough. It’s time to take action and protect kids from being exposed to tobacco products in stores.
How can we put a stop to tobacco use?
Read on now to find out how to do just that and learn how to sign the “Seen Enough Tobacco” pledge today to make New York a healthier place to live, work and play below!
5 Simple and Effective Ways to Teach All Kids The Effects of Tobacco
1. Talk openly continually.
As I said, we have spoken to our own kids. But this hasn’t just been once or twice. We have spoken continually over the years age and developmentally appropriately. But still, we have made sure keep this conversation and dialogue ongoing so they know and don’t forget by any means. Here is a place where I have gotten a bit more info for this.
2. Actions have consequences.
Having their grandfather pretty much as exhibit A has helped with this. But again, the consequences of cigarette and tobacco use need to be laid out and kids need to know that these products do have many more negative consequences over the years and course of use.
3. Be a role model at home.
I actually tried to smoke once in my youth. I say once, because once was pretty much all it took to realize it wasn’t for me. But this was way before my kids came onto the scene. Neither my husband nor I smoke at all. And we have made sure to keep our home smoke and tobacco free.
4. Address peer pressure often.
My kids are both a bit young still for this. But as they do head to their teen years, we plan on communicating openly about peer pressure for this. Plus, sharing responses to this kind of pressure is also a key measure we will be addressing with them.
5. Stress cigarettes aren’t the only form of tobacco.
See in my own youth smoking was pretty much the number one form of tobacco use. Nowadays, it isn’t. Vaping is a newer tobacco alternative. And it is also a huge new trend apparently amongst the younger generations. So to that end, all kids need to know that this is indeed a form of tobacco use.
Want another way to spread more awareness about the negatives of tobacco use?
Then sign the “Seen Enough Tobacco” petition to tell big tobacco our kids have seen enough HERE.
Did you grow up with a close member being a smoker?
Have you talked to your own kids about the negative effects of tobacco use?
Will you sign the petition?
Now, please share with us in the comments….
Meredith Spidel says
This is so smart and important! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Meredith and happy to share some valuable tips for this important issue.
I want to thank you for sharing this.
I grew up in a house of smokers and unfortunately, I became one of those young smokers. That’s right, I began smoking at the tender age of 11 years old. Of course, my mom yelled and my dad spanked, but there was never any real conversation.
It wasn’t until I became an adult myself and started looking into things, that I realized what a monster cigarettes really are. They are also a true addiction.
It took me multiple tries, multiple quit plans, multiple “stop smoking” meds (That all failed) Before I was able to look at myself and say, I just can’t do this to myself, my husband or my kids. So, I quit, cold turkey and it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Both of my kids saw this and I openly talk to my kids about the dangers, risks and costs of smoking, because I want them to be informed, unlike I was.
At 11 years old, I thought I looked so cool with that damn cigarette, hanging with the high school kids. God, was I naive.
Echo, once again thank you so much for sharing your honest experience with cigarettes and smoking at such a young and tender age, as well as the effects it had over the years. Also, glad you were able to quit for yourself and family, too.
My father was a smoker and while I don’t think that’s why he passed away, I know it didn’t help. I’ve never had a cigarette to this day!
Such sad stories, but I’m glad your dad is a survivor!!
I am so glad he is too. And I would hate to think this didn’t help your own dad. Hugs and thanks for sharing with me, too <3
Bri Adams says
What an important post. My mother grew up in a home where both parens smoked and she hated it. As a child I could see the difference in health between by grandparents who smoked and the ones that didn’t. Sadly my grandmother passed away from lung cancer. Something that was probably avoidable. We are very clear in our house of the dangers of smoking but it looks like we could use a very more of your tips. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing, too and appreciate hearing your experiences with your family, as well.
Wow, this is a great post. Thanks for sharing your story and this information that really needs to get out there!
Happy to be able to share to help with this as I know from first hand the effects.
William Holland says
Wednesdays are Market days, which means I fall hopelessly being in emails. Sorry about that. Great topic…so important….I grew up in ancient times when it seemed every parent smoked.For whatever reason I did not, but it certainly wasn’t because of parental influence. 🙂
Bill, never apologize for that and just hope you had a wonderful day at the market. That said thank you still for stopping by and sharing with me, too.
AnnMarie John says
My mother-in-law is a chain smoker and one of the reasons I don’t like her around too much is because of this. She would quit for about a month then go right back to smoking. I wish there were ways to get her to quit completely, but my kids know that smoking isn’t good for them and they are NOT interested in trying at all. As a matter of fact, they HATE the smell of cigarettes so that’s a bonus. Those are all great ways to teach kids the effects for sure.
Thanks AnnMarie and I agree even though some like your mother-in-law still smoke all we can do is teach our own kids about this as best as we can.