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.
Nothing warms my heart more than when my healthy, active kids, now 6 and 7 years old, ask “what’s that awful smell?” when referring to cigarette smoke. My super-smeller son Oliver, who can smell a fresh chocolate-chip cookie baking from a mile away, is especially sensitive to it.
As a child of the 80’s, smoking was so normal to me and candy cigarettes were a common site in the candy aisle of our favorite stores. (We used to love to puff away at them, blowing out the powdered sugar like smoke.) Even though I knew tobacco was unhealthy and my parents said not to do it, there were so many people in my life that actually did—uncles, aunts, cousins, my parents’ friends, and even our babysitter! So I grew up with a curiosity about it more than a revulsion to it. (Full disclosure…I smoked from high school and into my twenties.) But my kids have never seen anyone that that they know with a cigarette in his or her hand, and rarely see smoking in our health-conscious Brooklyn neighborhood.
When I read that the average age of a new smoker in New York is 13, and that 11.9% of high school students in the state of New York smoke, I immediately assume, well not my kids. But that kind of thinking is so naive, as I’m sure my parents thought the same exact thing. Tobacco companies spend so much effort specifically focusing on how to market to kids and how to get kids to take notice of their products with bright colors and compelling imagery. How crazy is it that 52% of pharmacies—retail operations that are considered healthcare facilities—continue to sell cigarettes behind the counter?
It’s so, so, so important to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking early—at age 5, they can understand what it means to be unhealthy, so start the conversation now!
Take action and sign the Seen Enough Tobacco pledge to make New York a healthier place to live, work, and play.