My 15 year old son is smoking regularly, and I am desperate to convince him to stop(39 Posts)
I know that I am quite powerless, and risk alienating him and destroying our relationship, but I am so upset. Both of his grandmothers were smokers, and my MIL died of lung cancer, and my mother died of a series of strokes.
He thinks he is not addicted, can stop whenever he wants, etc, but he has been smoking for over a year, lying skilfully and concealing the tobacco. He can still go for days without smoking (I think), and doesn't smoke a great deal, but it is more than just occasional.
I have begged and pleaded, taken away his tobacco when I have found it, and probably done the wrong thing being extremely emotional both about the smoking and about the lying. I know that people who start smoking when they are under 15 have a doubled risk of lung cancer, and 30% of them will continue smoking and die early.
I am hoping for advice about how to get him to stop and how to not further poison our relationship.
I would be really grateful for a few links to show him that are graphic and maybe relevant to teen smoking in particular.
Thank you for any help, advice, things I can show him-
Would being warned about the risk of impotence associated with smoking concern him more that heart disease/lung disease?
Sorry if that's inappropriate. I don't have a 15-year old son, but I imagine that's the sort if thing that most teenage boys would be more concerned about.
Thanks StillNoFuckingEye; I wasn't even aware of that myself. I will definitely try to get him to read that link.
The problem is that he feels like he can quit any time; he doesn't care what happens when he is unimaginably old; he doesn't believe anything like this will happen to him.
Would teeth do it? I deal with lots of brown, manky teeth due to smoking. Smoking not only causes stinky breath and often permanent discoloration, but it destroys the bone around the teeth so smokers will lose their teeth younger.
I have a 37 year old patient who'll be lucky to have teeth by the time he's 40. It's happened younger than average in him but there's no way of predicting who is more susceptible to perio
Google image periodontal disease and smoking, oral cancer etc - the pics are pretty grim
He can afford it because he rolls his own cigarettes (which is cheaper), doesn't smoke much, cadges off friends, and has a job walking a dog. I could stop the job, but think it's good for him to get outside and do something helpful for our neighbours.
Anything about sex is certainly appropriate for a 15 year old, so thanks again StillNo.
Thanks NoArmani; he is actually proud of his teeth, brushes regularly etc. I will look for pictures.
Does anyone have experience talking to teens about how easy it is to go from a few cigarettes occasionally to being totally addicted (and how hard it is to reverse this process)?
If he smokes rollies I'd be suspicious he's smoking weed
Smoking tobacco rollies is really common among students IME (am a lecturer) because it's massively cheaper than cigarettes. The link with weed is spurious. Anyway, tobacco is just as harmful.
Yes, I smoked half my teeth out
He needs to realise how addictive smoking is. Ask him to look around at all the older smokers - does he honestly think they all decided as teens to smoke 20 a day for the next 40 years?
If he genuinely thinks he can give up at any time, what about 'betting' him that he can't - either he wins, and stops smoking, or he loses, and realises he is addicted which would hopefully lead to him taking this seriously.
This is from here (There's an alarming graph of addictive behaviour on page 16) -
ADDICTION IN ADOLESCENCE
Only a few exposures to nicotine are required to produce neuroplastic changes in adolescent rats, and in adolescent humans, only a few cigarettes are required to produce symptoms of tobacco dependence.
In the largest study of adolescent addiction to smoking published so far, 7,482 adolescents interviewed at 14 to 15 years of age, had rapidly become addicted to smoking, as judged by symptoms of loss of control over their smoking.
Addiction is assessed by questions on symptoms of loss of autonomy over smoking (the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist or HONC), validated against brain scans. We found that:
- One quarter lose some control over their smoking after smoking only one to two cigarettes.
- Forty percent lose some control after smoking one to nine cigarettes ever.
- At 10-19 cigarettes ever smoked, half reported some loss of control over their smoking.
- Of those 14- to 15-year-olds who had ever smoked 100 cigarettes or more, half had high scores for loss of autonomy (7 to 10 out of 10 on the HONC scale).
Adolescent addiction cannot be dismissed as trivial, something they grow out of. It is intense, and in the majority who become lifelong smokers, it will shorten the lifespan of two-thirds of them, and markedly affect their lifetime health status.
Most of these 7,482 students had not smoked 100 cigarettes or more in their lifetime, but of those who had, 93 percent had diminished autonomy over their smoking, as measured by the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist (HONC).
Just found the HONC checklist. You could ask him to fill it out - he probably won't answer honestly if he's trying to prove to you he's not addicted though. Maybe just print it out and leave it lying around, the questions will make him think, even if he won't admit the truth to you.
Thank you so much PlentyofPube. I have to go out, but I am going to look through those links more carefully and think about how to bring this up with him. This is exactly the information that I desperately want to get through to him.
My DS 16 smokes which appalls me. AFAIK he smokes roll ups with weed and tobacco, I think ( hope ) only when with mates on a weekend. This started at 14 , he's now 16. He doesn't drink alcohol, won't touch cigarettes and is even disapproving of caffeine so I don't know why he thinks smoking anything is a good thing to do.
We don't give him much money, I don't know how he funds it.
Writing this makes me think I have turned too much of a blind eye, however talking to him about drugs in the past has always resulted in conflict as he says I don't know what I'm taking about as I've never tried it....and talking about stuff like loss of motivation doesn't help as he is hard working and motivated at school.
Sorry I can't offer any advice just sympathy. Maybe they'll grow out of it , just keep gently sending them the right messages ?
Thanks for the sympathy Claybury. Unfortunately, because of all my son's lies and denial, I have got way past gentle messages, and have screamed and cried and confiscated. I am particularly worried about tobacco as it is so physically addictive, though I think all of it is horrible.
Kids at this age seem completely irrational and self-righteous, which, together with raging hormones and poor impulse control, just seems like a perpetual nightmare, even when they are wonderful, hard working people.
Thanks again for your thoughts. How do you stay gentle and reasonable?
Plentyofpubes, the information in the link you gave me is absolutely chilling, and very well presented: thanks again.
Hi I smoked from 14-30 gave up when I was pregnant with first child. My dh smoked also. My dad always nagged me about it, dh's parents were very relaxed, though also non smokers. As a result he was far more take it as you come. My dad really put my back up and said all the wrong things to a teenager. What really irritated me was continuing to treat me like an idiot and repeating stuff I already knew. He didn't let me discover anything for myself (I felt at the time) he also clearly had no understanding of addiction, I was dealing with significant grief at the time and frankly dealing with it pretty well.
It's not a great thing to do and I would love to have never got addicted, didn't realise how much it smelt at the time. Will try to be accepting of whatever my kids choose to do but would always explain to them how much I regretted getting addicted. I also coughed for about 16 years but have virtually no flem now! nice eh, smelly expensive and flemmy an attractive combination.
Sorry that doesn't really help you but personally I would avoid trying to live your son's life for him. I think it's good to let them make these mistakes for themselves. I don't think it hurts to explain why you chose not to do it yourself but i believe it is his choice. Having said that dd is 11 now so what do I know? I am dreading the next five/six years....
He needs a girlfriend to tell him that kissing a smoker is like licking an ashtray.
at that age, the more you push the more he will push back.
is he at high risk of continuing smoking as an adult? do you smoke? dad smoke? possible future job have lots of smokers?
most people i knew at uni smoked
none of us do now. most stopped mid twenties. i think there was a recent study saying there is no increased risk for that profile smoker.
My kids are still young, but, if it's any reassurance, I started smoking at 15, by the time I was 20 I was probably regularly on about 10 a day, by the time I was 25 I had given up. Mainly due to the fact I realised how expensive and smelly it was! This was pretty common among a lot of my friends- as teenagers we were all 'social smokers', but we grew out of it and none of us still smoke.
I guess I'm trying to say a lot of teenagers go through a smoking phase but a lot of them also grow out of it.
This is where the smoking ban is so helpful. My only times I'd occasionally want a cigarette is at pub/restaurant but now I hang out with large amounts of non smokers it would be really antisocial whereas before it was largely a social thing to do.
It's a tough one, clara. I wish to high heaven I'd never started in my late teens.
Agree with everything Plenty says about addiction - beyond bad breath, breathlessness, stinky coat and hands, addiction is the worst thing, IMO. And if someone had convinced me as a teenager that I would get addicted to nicotine and my mental health would suffer as a result, I might well have stopped before I really started.
It didn't work for me, but I know a lot of people who the Allen Carr Easyway book convinced to stop - you can get it cheap on amazon. The next thing I'm going to try is an electronic cigarette and that might be something for your DS if nothing else has worked.
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