Talk to your child about tobacco products

This week, April 22-26, is Every Kid Healthy Week, which celebrated school health and wellness achievements. The event recognizes that healthy children are better prepared to learn. As a teacher at a local school, I feel that every week should be Every Kid Healthy Week, because I see first-hand that one of the best ways for kids to be healthy and prepared to learn is to not use tobacco products or be exposed to tobacco products.

While most parents think of cigarettes when they hear tobacco products mentioned, the world of tobacco products is continually changing. Products now come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors. Many new products that attract youth today include items that are high-tech and look like USB flash drives, credit cards, small cell phones or guitar picks. These items use juice pods that are often brightly colored and are flavored like candy or fruit. As a teacher, I worry about the increase in use of these products among our youth at an increasingly early age. Therefore, I strongly encourage parents to expand the “tobacco talk” to include more products than old standbys like cigarettes and chew.

These conversations are important because e-cigarettes can harm kids’ health. The myth that they only contain flavored water vapor is just that, a myth. E-cigarette juices do contain nicotine and their use has been shown to negatively affect adolescent brain development, including the parts that control attention and memory. Therefore, not only do these products pose health risks to our youth, but also puts their ability to learn at risk.

I am passionate about teaching and deeply care about the children in my classroom, school, and in our communities. I hope as a parent you will seek out further information to learn more about these products that are negatively impacting the lives of our children in so many ways.

To get more information on tobacco-less products, tips for talking to your child, or to connect with your local tobacco prevention and control efforts visit www.tobaccoischanging.com.

Also, as a parent you can help set a good example by being tobacco-free. If you smoke or know someone who smokes, please call the Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669) for free, or if you have Medicaid, talk to your doctor about medications and counseling offered through the Medicaid cessation benefit.

Let’s continue to give our children the best future we can.

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