Father’s Day is a day to celebrate dads for who they are and all of the wonderful things they do. It is also a great time for dads to remember the important role they play in influencing the choices their kids make regarding tobacco use.
For many kids, Father’s Day means taking Dad out to breakfast, giving him a gift, or just saying thanks. But hundreds of thousands of kids throughout the country have fathers who smoke and who need to be reminded that smoking is America’s number one preventable cause of death. On this special day for dads, one terrific way to celebrate Father’s Day might be to pledge to give dads who currently smoke the kind of loving support and encouragement that could help them to be tobacco-free before Father’s Day next year. Another lasting tribute would be to support new public and private tobacco-control initiatives that will not only help smoking fathers quit but also prevent their sons from ever becoming another statistic in the terrible toll that tobacco addiction takes on America’s dads and their families.
Dads who smoke can celebrate Father’s Day by quitting, and all dads, whether or not they smoke, can celebrate Father’s Day by taking a number of effective actions to protect their kids from becoming among the tobacco industry’s addicted customers and victims. And all dads, smokers and nonsmokers alike, can also do a lot to protect their kids from secondhand smoke.
How can dads keep their children from smoking?
As a parent, you are one of the most important persons in a child’s life, especially when it comes to cigarettes. You can make a big difference in the choices your kids make.
If you smoke, quit. If you can’t quit, keep trying. Children from families who smoke are twice as likely to become smokers themselves — but parents who try to quit and talk to their kids about how addictive smoking is, why they want to quit, and how important it is to never start can beat those odds.
Maintain a totally smoke-free home (even if you smoke).
Educate your child about the dangers of cigarette smoking.
— Talk about addiction and how hard it is to quit smoking.
— Emphasize the immediate health effects.
— Emphasize the effects of smoking on physical appearance.
Listen to what your child says and does regarding smoking and encourage your child when he or she makes good choices.
Ask your child about his or her friends and their attitudes toward smoking.
Discuss peer pressure and how to deal with it effectively.
Clear up any misunderstandings your child might have about smoking. For example: everybody is not doing it; getting hooked can happen very quickly, and quitting is very difficult.
Make sure your kids’ schools have strong and well-enforced no-smoking rules for kids and staff.
How can you protect your child from secondhand smoke?
If you smoke, quit smoking — or at least keep trying. Call the local office of the American Lung Association or American Cancer Society, talk to your doctor, or sign up for a stop-smoking course. Don’t let anyone smoke in your home. Make sure anyone who smokes only does so outside, away from open doors and windows. If you smoke, wear a “smoking shirt,” and remove it before coming into contact with your child, especially infants — and never smoke while holding, feeding, or bathing your child. And remember: smoking residues in a home (or car) can cause harm even when smoking is no longer taking place. Never smoke in the car, especially when your child is a passenger.
Avoid leaving your child with someone who smokes or in smoky environments. Ask about smoking and smoke-free rules and practices when evaluating day care centers or babysitters, or even when leaving your kids at other people’s homes.
This article was written by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Visit www.tobaccofreekids.org/facts_issues/more_resources/quitting for further information on this topic. For information on smoking cessation classes, contact Beth Willett at the Clark County Health Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 744-4482.