What can I do to prevent my kid from smoking?
Though parents' attitudes and habits play a big role in a kid's decision to smoke, watching characters light up on TV shows and movies may actually cause kids to pick up the habit. A 2012 surgeon general's report found that exposure to onscreen smoking is the single biggest influence on young people’s starting to smoke--even larger than parents. And the effects of onscreen smoking are larger among youth whose parents don't smoke.
But what you say and do has a big influence on kids. Explaining the risks of smoking can combat the media's messages. When your kids watch shows that depict smoking, take the opportunity to share the dangers, especially to kids, including the fact that it impairs lung growth and function, causes asthma, and produces cravings that make you do it despite negative physical effects. Don't forget to mention that movies and TV shows rarely portray the true health consequences of smoking.
Though you may not be able to avoid all media in which smoking occurs, you can always find out whether a movie or show features smoking by checking Common Sense Media's reviews. And if you come across a show that has smoking, watch any included anti-smoking public service announcements. Studies show that strong anti-smoking public service announcements viewed directly after exposure to onscreen smoking can mitigate some of the effects.