23 answers

Dealing with Smoking of a 17 Year Old

My 17 yr old son, a senior in high school has started smoking. When we talked to him about it he said he would stop, today he came in smelling like a cigarette and when I asked him about it, he said that friends where smoking around him and that he would never smoke again. Then I asked to smell his breath....he had been smoking. He's not a bad kid, just easily led astray. Anyone have this problem and how do you handle the situation?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi L.,

I know how you must feel. I have an 18 year old and although he doesn't smoke I know what teens go through when trying to fit in. I found an article you may find intersting. Although the website sounds like I'm suggesting Military school that's not it at all. I just liked the advice they give.

http://www.militaryschoolalternatives.com/article-teens-w...

K.
www.GreenKidzRUs.com - watch the video

1 mom found this helpful

Have you sat him down and did the math in front of him so that he knows what the cost is for this nasty habit? and after you are done, tell him that for every time you smell smoke on him, be it from his friends or him, he will need to pay you the price of a pack. They think they can hide it, but you can not hide the smell!! also tell him how bad it stinks!! Oh, and that money you will be getting from him, put it in a savings account and keep telling him thanks and how much you are up to. when you have over a $100 in the bank and He knows that it all came from him, it will get him thinking. I would also call to find out how much a pack cost so that he can not bull doze you. You can also have him visit some one who was in the hospital for Cancer that they got from smoking. My uncle just past away from Lung cancer and sad to say He Quit smoking about 10 yrs ago, but being around 2nd hand smoke was what finished him off.

More Answers

Hi L.,

I know how you must feel. I have an 18 year old and although he doesn't smoke I know what teens go through when trying to fit in. I found an article you may find intersting. Although the website sounds like I'm suggesting Military school that's not it at all. I just liked the advice they give.

http://www.militaryschoolalternatives.com/article-teens-w...

K.
www.GreenKidzRUs.com - watch the video

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,
How anxious this must make you! I know I would have HATED it if any of my children had started that filthy habit. That being said, I don't know if there is really anything you can do if his friends are smoking and he is determined to. Having an open discussion about it with him, giving him the opportunity to fully express his feelings, and you sharing your concerns about his health and well being is probably the best you can do. Does he have his own income? If he has the money to buy them, it is very difficult to stop him from doing so, unless you are the one who provides him with the money. Do you know anyone who smokes and wishes they had never started? Perhaps that person can share their story. I imagine he knows all the disadvantages...health, financial, social? We are now in the age where smoking is becoming unacceptable to the masses, ask him why he wants to become one of the group that society is disfavoring. I would work hard to keep the lines of communication open by you openly and lovingly sharing how and why you feel as you do, admitting your fears of it, but accepting that it is his choice, and really allowing him to make the choice, as difficult as that is. Otherwise, he will lie and hide it and it will encroach on other areas of your relationship. We can always look at it that he could be making even worse choices... Even if you could keep him from smoking now, and he is angry about it, the chances are that as soon as he is not under your supervision, he will do it. He needs to come to the place where he, himself, does not want to participate in it, for his own welfare and being. Give him information, show him pictures of lungs of people who smoke, etc but withholding judgement upon him, always lovingly accepting him, although not the behavior. There is a lesson here for him to learn something, concentrating on that aspect might make it a bit easier for you. I really think the key is being able to love him through it, acknowledging that it is his choice and you trust him to make good choices (and be able to say that honestly) while letting him kmow how hard it is for you. Blessings to both of you. No one ever said parenting is easy, hey? But it is so worth it!

1 mom found this helpful

We dealt with the same problem with both our boys. I think the first thing is that if he smells like smoke assume he's been smoking. At this point in time he and his friends have to go out of their way to smoke...you can't just smoke anywhere you want. When we said that we also acknowledged that we understood that it is not an easy habit to break but that there are rules to living in our home and one of them is that they don't smoke, or bring the smell of smoke, or friends who smoke into our home. One reason is because of my husbands asthma and another is because we hate the smell and believe that it is damaging to your body. We said we'd help them any way we could, but that they needed to be honest in order for us to help. And the last thing was to tell them they have a choice to make: They could choose our rules, and our home but along with the privilege of being here comes responsibility and one of the main responsibilities is to respect us even if they don't agree. The alternative is for them to do their own thing on their own dime with no help whatsoever from us. One son decided immediately that he didn't want to be on his own and didn't value the idea of smoking that much and asked for our help. The other chose to live on his own for about 7 months and wasn't a fan of that life so chose to move back home. It has been difficult at times, but we've had some very good conversations and we've been able to work through things one day at a time. I would say be careful not to demean him or his friends but be very candid about him being truthful, about why you don't want that in your home, and about your willingness to help him beat this habit. I hope it goes well for you...also, if your husband is in agreement have him do the lion's share of the talking and enforcing.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

I'm a 36-year-old who's been smoking since 13. I have tried to quit many times and it still has a hold on me, even though I know all too well what the consequences could be if I don't stop. My parents smoked and grounded me when they found out but that didn't stop me and I continued smoking. At 16 I was allowed to smoke in the house. I feel now that this was a bad decision on their part, and I wish that they would have continued telling me not to do it, and continued punishing me with the hope that it would sink in.
With this past experience in mind, I think you should continue to tell him that he shouldn't smoke and if you smell smoke on him again, back it up with why. Find some stuff on the internet, you know, pics of people with the hole in their throat, or a play by play of a lung transplant, or a young person walking around with an oxygen tank. Leave them in his car, notebooks, desk (unless you have good communication in your relationship and can do it up front more successfully). Don't stop, he will get it. Please don't give in, he'll thank you for it, I promise you.
Another idea is to find someone he really admires, for example a rock star or actor or athlete and find out their views on smoking. Or life expectancy stats. There's all kinds of stuff out there. The bigger the deal you make out of it by going to the trouble to get all this information should reach him. Tell him about this blog as well and about treatment options to help him quit if he feels he's at that point. The most important thing is to let him know that your on his side and that this cigarette has the potential of taking him away from you and an awesome future which could be shortened significantly.

good luck to you
M.

HI L.,

Although my kids are only 4 and 1. I smoked when I was 17. I quit around 18 or 19 b/c I didn't like the way it made me feel physcially, but I would suggest not trying to insist that he doesn't smoke. I remember if my parents said no then my answer was yes even if I was not that into whatever it was. Maybe you could approach it like you know he is old enough to make his own descision about it but you would appreciate him having enough respect for you and your house not to do it while he is at home. B/c regardless of what you say if he wants to he will even when he leaves home. Maybe with that approach instead of insisting he stops will go farther. Good luck and trust that you have raised him right and he will make good decisions in life. :)

K.

Isn't it illegal for him to buy cigarettes? How is he paying for them?
and what are the rules in your home? until he is 18 and living at home, what are his consquences?

I am not in your shoes and my kids are not as old, so by any means am not an expert....

Does he know all of the health hazzards?

This is not easy.

Maybe get some counsiling?

I sure will be thinking of you!
T.
www.tesabartell.myarbonne.com

I would be compassionate and sincere and tell him that you believe that he is already addicted to smoking because he is in denial. I would then take him to classes to learn how to quit. Because he is only experimenting and not really addicted it will embarass the pants off him and will stop before you take him to a second class. He will probably quit hanging around those buddies while they are smoking just to avoid dealing with the consequences. Classes are offered for free at your local hospital (Lincoln i know has a program). He'll know you are only doing it out of love and concern and that will cut worse than threats and harsh words.

really not a thing can be done about it. I just would not buy them for him. it IS illegal for him to buy them though he is allowed to have them without legal problems. I learned to fight the battles that have bigger problems.
til he learns himself that smoking is not a good idea. compromise with a few rules for example he is not allowed to smoke in front of your daughter, in the car because I am sure he is driving, your house, whether you smoke or not, allow him to smoke with his friends because by looking at this he is smoking to be cool with his friends, he needs to fit in and unfortunately smoking is the in thing. unless the friends are actually bad kids do not worry about it... he could have other things that need to be addressed like stealing or hurting people.

I hate to say it, but other than present the facts of the dangers, and punish when you do smell it on his breath - in other words, when you catch him, HE's got to be the decision maker.

He has to know how girls (and others) look down on smokers. Even coworkers look down on them, as will any prospective employers or those he interviews with for college. Cigarette smell is easily detected. Even moms of young kids may stay away, as it's been found that the residue on clothes even gets into lungs.

I smoked occasionally as a teen. I was surprised at how easily my parents stopped punishing me for it, when they would be too harsh on so many other things, or even perceived faults. I was grounded at the blink of an eye, often for things I didn't do. To me, that gave me a sign that although they preferred I didn't smoke, it wasn't bad. This is a life-threatening thing. I think punishment is needed. He will still sneak, probably, but this isn't anything I'd waver on. In my twenties I became a social smoker - never craved it, never smoked alone. Today I don't smoke at all. I never became hooked, but as we know from others, it is easy to become hooked.

I'm sure he's hanging with the "wrong" crowd - those that do smoke, and it's a very social habit. But I don't think you'll be able to change his friends. Smoking isn't cool, and he needs to know the smell follows him everywhere. I have to hold my nose and often my stomach when I pass a smoker. Ick!

My mother died of lung cancer when I was 17. She was a single parent and I was the oldest, so I had to step in for much of her care. I told my children very vividly what it was like for her when she came home from chemotherapy, throwing up every 15 minuts for 48 hours straight and coughing up pieces of her lungs. I told them about the evening I had to help her pull out all of her hair in gobs when it started falling out from the chemo. I told them about how I used to have to warm dampened cotton balls in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time so she could put them in her ears which were raw from her treatments and, by the time I would finish one batch the last one would have gotten cold, so I would go back in forth for hours doing this while she cried in agony. I told them of the evening I had to come in and see her dead on the ground of her bedroom where she died trying to walk herself to the bathroom but did not make it. I told them about cancer. Smoking caused her cancer and traumatized our whole family. Smoking causes cancer and cancer causes death.

Take him to the chemotherapy ward. Take him to the cemetary. Have him meet other families who have lost parents and children to cancer. Smoking kills and destroys lives. I would be glad to talk to him like I talked to my kids if you want me to. They never got to meet their grandmother. This is real, it is serious, and it is a matter of life and death for your son. I wish you the best and will help you in any way I can.

Hi L.,

Perhaps you could take him to a clinic that will allow him to visit a patient who has emphysema or lung cancer. Would be great for him to see a picture of a smoker's lungs, too. You could probably find some on the internet.

I think it would be important to educate him on the diseases associated with smoking. It is so rare that a smoker escapes without serious physical detriment. Maybe the facts would help sway him.

Best of luck to you!

Warm Regards,
G. Van Luven

while my oldest is 13 and i haven't had to directly deal with smoking i have thought about it.
i do believe that we can't control our kids and if we do try to control their choices, they will rebel and do the exact opposite of what we would choose for ourselves.
i'd vote to let him know that you don't approve of smoking and it makes you sad(or whatever feeling it causes) that he make the choice to smoke.
instead of checking his breath (which sends the message that you don't trust him) maybe you should just lay some ground rules...like if you smoke and come home please change your clothes and brush your teeth right away. or make him in charge of washing his own clothes if they smell like smoke. it is true that being around people who smoke will make you smell smokey.
i suggest to let him make his own choices and to keep your relationship in a place of honesty. in otherwords you can agree to disagree and have a healthy relationship.
best wishes.

YOu can take him to a doctor and have the doctor give him a talk on the risks and hazards of smoking. #2 you need to deal with his lying to you, which is probably a bigger issue, # 3 I suggest a book called "Unprotected" By DR. Miriam Grossman that discusses the societal attitudes expressed to teens today and the emotional and physical harm it is wreaking on our young adults.

Good luck with it,
C.

When my sister started smoking my mom was devastated. She didn't know what to do. She told my sister that if she quit cold turkey and she stopped for a month ( or maybe it was two months) that she would give her two hundred bucks. My sister wanted the money more and she quit and hasn't touched it since. Is there anything your son really wants? Sometimes bribes are the only thing that will work. Good luck and hand in there.

Have you sat him down and did the math in front of him so that he knows what the cost is for this nasty habit? and after you are done, tell him that for every time you smell smoke on him, be it from his friends or him, he will need to pay you the price of a pack. They think they can hide it, but you can not hide the smell!! also tell him how bad it stinks!! Oh, and that money you will be getting from him, put it in a savings account and keep telling him thanks and how much you are up to. when you have over a $100 in the bank and He knows that it all came from him, it will get him thinking. I would also call to find out how much a pack cost so that he can not bull doze you. You can also have him visit some one who was in the hospital for Cancer that they got from smoking. My uncle just past away from Lung cancer and sad to say He Quit smoking about 10 yrs ago, but being around 2nd hand smoke was what finished him off.

There is nothing you can do stop pier pressure...however there is one thing that might help him to think twice....take him to visit a hospice where someone has lung cancer....check the person out first to see how long they have smoked and to let them know why you want to visit with your son...the person dying from lung cancer knows their days are numbered however for the patient to know they have helped change the direction of a teenage gives them relief and peace...my uncle, aunt, and grandfather (all my fathers family) have died from smoking and lung cancer....my father and aunt are the only ones left neither of which smokes....(my father quit 40 years ago)...yes the other three are missed everyday not only by us but their kids, grandkids, and numerous other family members.

Don't know if your son as taken into consideration the amount of money that is spent on his habit....this would go a long way to a new car, or other wants that he has.

You are in our prays!!

Take your kids to visit a care center or the vet's hospital. Go to the unit where patients are suffering from breathing problems and/or have tubes and trachs. This may help for them to see what may be avoided , and how smoking hurts many.
They can volunteer in some areas during the summer and get a good look. Starting is easy but quiting is VERY HARD! Don't FUSS, they only try to hide it and lie. Show him how much the cost is in money, how stinky it is beside the health issue.
Barb a retired nurse

I understand what all these other moms are saying, but I just don't think there is anything you can do now. I started smoking at 18 yo after already moving out of my parents. It is unhealthy, smells bad, expensive, etc. I have never smoked in the house, however. I have a 16 yo who hates it, and I hope that she, or any of our other kids, never start. I would like to say to you regarding your son that he is 17 now. There are very few battles that you will win at this point. In two months, he graduates high school and then he's gone and you won't have any idea what he's getting into. I suggest that you have a simple mature discussion about the health, social and financial effects of the habit, and that smoking will not be tolerated on your property and the other things that Gayle said...and then let it go. That is our job as parents, give them the skills and information to make decisions and then let them. They will make the wrong ones sometimes. Don't waste the last five months your child will be with you consumed with this issue. You are likely to just alienate him or make him resentful, and then you knows what's going to happen later. It is an important issue, but the boy considers himself an adult who can make his own decisions now and is ANY issue really worth the relationship that you have with him?

Hi L.!

I am sorry you are dealing with this with your son. I dealt with it also. My son started when he turned 17, he started hanging out with these older kids, that were not from school. They all smoked. So of course he started. Now he is 20 years old and is still smoking. I have tried everything from threats to having him talk with people that have lung problems now, because of their smoking. But still he keeps on. I hope your son is smarter than mine about this. My son is also a good kid. He doesnt do drugs or drink or get into trouble. But I worry about his health. I wish my son would stop this dumb habit. Dont give up trying to get your son to stop. Nothing you do will be a dumb idea. The main goal is to get him to stop. He is the important thing hear. Good Luck! I wish I had better news for you, but hopefully your son will come to his senses.

D.

Speak to him on a guy level...

Gather ALL the information you can on the subject and confront him with data and statistics.

Maybe you could take him to your family dr who could show him how smoking will affect his body.

i guess i went a little overboard with my 17 yr old. fortunatley he doesnt know how to lie very well. i found out who he got them from. it was his 18 yr old friends. i went to the police and told them i wanted to file a complaint. they tried to blow me off told me he is almost 18 and it doesnt matter anyway so i went ot the police chief and threatened to sue. it is still illegal for him to have tobacco even if his birthday would be tommorrow. so the kids were cited and released but they had to go to court and do community service. and then they didnt want to hang round my son because he got them in toruble. he hated me for a while but he understands now that when i say something, i relaly mean it. and he had to work to get my trust back. i didnt let him go out for a month and took away a lot of stuff. he got everything back in a month and then i still checked him everytime he came home. i am a nurse and i told him aobut the dangers of smoking but you know when it comes form mom , it doesnt really work so i took him to our hospital with me for a day. i work in the ER but i sent him to med surg and he ehlped take care of a couple of people iwth COPD. that was and eye opener for him. i know its hard and maybe i did go eoverboard but it is my job to take care of him if he cant be trusted to take care ofhimslef. ps the cops think im a nut

I would advise there be consequences if you catch him.

I remember I tried that excuse with my husband about it being my friends and I am almost 48. I quit a year ago after smoking about 3 years. My husband said he knew all along I was doing it, but what was he gonna do.

Good Luck,

K.

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