Hey Kids, Don't Smoke, Use Smokeless Tobacco, or Nicotine Products

Updated:Oct 31,2014

Avoid Smoke and Tobacco If your friends ask you to try smoking, smokeless tobacco, or electronic cigarettes say no! Here’s why.

Smoking traditional cigarettes or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vapes), or using smokeless tobacco (also called dip, snuff or chew) are some of the worst things you can do to your body. Just smoking a few cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco a couple of times might make you addicted, and it can be very hard to quit.

Using ANY tobacco product damages nearly EVERY organ in your body and can cause heart disease and cancer. Using smokeless tobacco is NOT a safe alternative to smoking!

Why is smoking so bad for your health?

Tobacco contains a chemical called “nicotine” that gives smokers a pleasant feeling. People get addicted to that good feeling. Electronic cigarettes and “vapes” also deliver nicotine. Just because these products are high-tech doesn’t mean they’re safe. In addition to the nicotine, tobacco products have lots of other poisonous chemicals in them. These toxic substances can destroy your body over time, especially your heart and lungs.

Some of the thousands of chemicals found in cigarette smoke or smokeless tobacco are also found in other familiar things:
  • Acetone — nail polish remover
  • Hydrogen cyanide — insecticide
  • Methanol — antifreeze
  • Cadmium — batteries
  • Hydrazine — rocket fuel
  • Toluene — paint thinner
  • Polonium 210 — nuclear waste
  • Formaldehyde — embalming fluid
  • Lead — once used in paint
  • Nitrosamines — cancer-causing substances
  • Arsenic— used in pesticides
  • Propylene glycol – automobile anti-freeze

Avoid smokers, too!

Breathing in smoke from someone else who is smoking is called secondhand smoking, and it is also hazardous for your heart and lungs too. Even if it smells good, these fumes can be dangerous. When it comes to smoking and smokeless tobacco products, there is only one way to go to keep your heart healthy: Stay away! REMEMBER: If you can smell the smoke, then the chemicals are getting into your body!

Peer Pressure: What if your friend wants you to use tobacco?

Let’s face it, saying “no” isn’t always easy. It can be especially difficult if you have to say “no” to your friends. Most of us worry about fitting in and what others will think of us. But if you’re worried that you’ll lose your friend over smoking or using tobacco, you may want to take a closer look at the friendship. A true friend will respect your decisions and someone who ditches you for not taking orders from them was never a true friend in the first place. Also, you may discover that some of your other friends secretly feel the same way you do! It takes courage to say “no” but you can do it! Actually, MOST teens have made the decision not to use tobacco. If you plan ahead, it’ll be lots easier to stay strong and stick to your goal.

What are my choices?

If someone wants you to try smoking or using other types of tobacco, here are a few ways to say “no.”

Decide which way works for you.
  1. Be direct. If a friend asks you, “Hey, do you want a smoke?” … say, “No. I don’t want to.” And sound like you mean it. If you say no every time they ask, they will eventually stop asking.
  2. Change the subject. If a friend asks you, “Hey, do you want a cigarette?” … say, “No, but let’s go play basketball, or to a movie or go for a walk.”
  3. Have a good joke, comeback line or smart response ready. If a friend says, “Come on, everyone smokes.” … say, something funny like, “No thanks, I’m a big fan of breathing.” Or, “No thanks, I am not a butt kisser.” (Get it? Cigarette butts? HA!) Or try a smart response such as, “No thanks, cigarettes have a lot of really nasty chemicals in them that I don’t want in my body.”
  4. Walk away. If you feel uncomfortable and don’t want to say anything, you can simply walk away. It’s as easy as that.
  5. Blame it on something else. Use an excuse to say “no,” like, “My mom wants me home now. Got to go!” or “It’s not worth getting in trouble over it.”
  6. Avoid the situation. If you see your friends sneaking around with tobacco, you can decide to do something else besides hang out with them. It may be really hard, but if your friends don’t respect your right not to smoke, try hanging out with some people who will.
Pick your favorite way to say “no” and try it out. Get comfortable saying it in front of a mirror or write down what you’ll say to someone who wants you to smoke. Be prepared to use more than one choice if necessary.

Here are some questions you can ask a parent, teacher or other trusted adult.
  1. Did you ever face peer pressure to smoke? If so, did you say “no”? How?
  2. What are some of your favorite healthy tips to try instead of smoking?
  3. If you know someone who is sick from smoking-related causes, ask an adult whether they think that person regrets smoking.

Last reviewed 8/2014

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