How to Help Kids Dodge Cigarette, Vaping, and Pot Marketing and Stay Smoke-Free

New ways to smoke, new stuff to smoke, and evolving legal guidelines make it tougher to teach kids to just say no. By Caroline Knorr
How to Help Kids Dodge Cigarette, Vaping, and Pot Marketing and Stay Smoke-Free

Whether or not you smoke cigarettes or support legalizing marijuana, you probably don't want your kids lighting up. But the rise of e-cigs, vaporizers like the Juul, and decriminalized pot may make your standard anti-smoking arguments -- "it causes cancer," "it's illegal" -- feel a little shaky. Add in celebrities posting pictures of themselves smoking various substances, and you might wonder: Is it possible to raise drug-free, smoke-free kids in the era of Smoking 2.0? Yes, but it helps to have a little ammunition.

If you're feeling outspent, out-messaged, and out-cooled, take heart. There are plenty of ways to fight back. Here's how to help your kids resist the marketing of traditional cigarettes, vaporizers, e-cigs, and pot.

Traditional cigarettes

  • Explain how bad smoking is for you. Kids think they're immune and immortal. The death statistics could be eye-opening, even for the "it won't happen to me" age group.
  • Talk about how addictive nicotine is. Nicotine is really difficult to quit. Discuss the signs of physical addiction and the risk of getting addicted.
  • Help them resist gimmicks. Traditional cigarettes are trying to capture smoker interest by using kid-friendly tricks -- for example, the Camel Crush cigarettes with a menthol ball inside. But the cigarettes still really are bad for you.

Vaporizors and e-cigs

  • Share the facts. E-cigarettes and vapes do reduce exposure to some of the harmful chemicals of tobacco cigarettes, but no one really knows the impact of these products on kids' health. And studies show they contain formaldehyde.
  • Tell them to wait. Tell them it's important that they wait until their brains and bodies have developed fully before they consume something potentially harmful.
  • Talk about addiction. Kids can get hooked on nicotine but also on the physical habit of reaching for a pipe.
  • Get your doctor involved. Have your pediatrician talk to your kid about the dangers of ingesting any chemical you don't know much about. 
  • Help them see through the hype. Talk about marketing methods such as using celebrities and how companies try to make e-cigs seem as though they are healthier and better for the environment than tobacco cigarettes.


  • Impart your values. Teens are still listening to their parents, despite much evidence to the contrary. Discuss what's important to you: good character, solid judgment, and belief in a bright future -- all of which are compromised by smoking pot.
  • Explain the health consequences. Study after study indicates that pot negatively affects a teen's developing brain.
  • Encourage waiting. For some kids, forbidding might backfire, so focus on preventing them from starting to smoke in the first place, delaying it as long as possible.
  • Look for warning signs. Be on the lookout for things that might be affecting your kid in other areas of his or her life -- for example, social exclusion, school problems, and emotional instability.
  • Pull back the curtain on pot marketing. Kids and teens don't like to be tricked, and advertising is full of sneaky ways to get people to buy a product, including branding pot products with names such as Bob Marley and Willie Nelson. Instead of lecturing, help your kids break down the ads to see how they try to influence emotions, choices, and behavior.

To learn more about what you can do to help stop e-cig and vape advertising, check out Common Sense Kids Action.

About Caroline Knorr

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As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (13)

Adult written by George121

This is a very good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!
Adult written by Sadman

I made a comment on an earlier version of this story a couple years ago, and if anything the push towards "pot is cool" is getting worse, especially here in Canada with the legalization mere weeks away. One thing kids - and adults - need to be educated about is questioning where a lot of the claims (good and bad) are coming from. There was a news article on a site that used Facebook-based comments, so it showed people's names and where they worked, and there was an article about how many people are concerned about second-hand pot smoke, both in terms of physical effect and the fact it just outright stinks on par with (and to many, more than) tobacco and exhaust. This person came back with all sorts of "it's harmless" and "you'll get used to it" and "it's great" statements ... and then you notice that the person's occupation is they run a pot producing start-up. Yet when Big Tobacco had people issue claims that second hand tobacco smoke was being exaggerated, people shot them down. Why does "Big Pot" (get used to that term) get a pass? I'm against it because I know too many people who have acknowledged that pot ruined their lives and that they were addicted to it, plus the smoking of it stinks. Fortunately there are smokeless options; then again, there were smokeless options for tobacco too and a lot of people have mouth cancers now because of it...
Kid, 10 years old

Parents shoud not be letting their kids or teens smoke because they will become addicted to it if they start to do it too much. Risky behavior like this should not be modeled and shuld show severe consequences.
Teen, 17 years old written by Briana3322

Vaping is increasingly popular among teens. Most people that I know either own a vape, or have used someone else's. That's what I'd discuss with you teens, because they are seen as having no health risks, so they are widely used by teens. They are also extremely accessible, because they aren't seen as harmful, so a handful of places willingly sell them to those who are underage.
Adult written by addictionrehabcenter

Alcohol abuse is associated with serious health and social issues. However, addicts may continue abusing alcohol to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. To ensure a successful withdrawal from alcohol, an alcohol detoxification program at a specialized facility should be availed. always support parents who wants to withdrawal drug abuse for their children
Adult written by Best Essay Writers

'Kids smoking' is a developing culture and parents must equip their children with knowledge of how to keep them away from smoking. Essay writer agrees with Caroline Knorr that lecturing about smoking only makes them eager to try it out. Instead, try to break down the facts about how it will affect them even by examples. Marijuana is being televised and advertised by celebrities as a cool way of life. With this in mind, smoking marijuana can be tempting to smoke, and it is our responsibility to help them see past the hype. Thanks again Caroline for sharing this, it was informative and will share it. As an essay writer i enjoyed reading this piece, check my blog Bottom line, Let's help our kids stop smoking.
Teen, 13 years old written by Hello.World123

Okay first of all the kids I know aren't all eager to smoke. Parents are being really stupid. If your so worried about it talk to them young and develop a really strong punishment system (nothing that's illegal) Parents are being wimps. Grow up and realize your kids are gonna wanna try things. Education then right. And if you hear this quote in your house it's not a big deal it's just a vine " I didn't choose thug life, thug life chose me"
Adult written by Sadman

I hope you're right that kids aren't that interested, since it's mainly the adults who are trying to force pot down everyone's throats - adults and kids, alike. I've seen people claim it cures cancer and that kids should be encouraged to use it. Seriously. What we need is more kids like you to speak to their parents to reassure them that they aren't interested ... but the onus is on the kids to have the moral integrity to stick to what they say. Many people will never forgive Miley Cyrus for making multiple statements on how she'd never use drugs and they were bad, etc ... and before long, we know what happened. Obviously people do change their minds on things, but if today's kids are serious that they don't want to smoke, think getting high is for losers, etc. then we need them to come out and be vocal about this, especially in places where you have pot smokers trying to normalize its use at the same time as everyone else is trying to de-normalize tobacco smoking. It's a classic case of "my drug is better than your drug."