Smoking in the Media Tips

Learn the sneaky ways that cigarette companies target your kids -- and why you don't have to put up with it.
Caroline Knorr Parenting Editor | Mom of one Categories: Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking, Marketing to Kids
Parenting Editor | Mom of one

Behind the smokescreen

Cigarette marketing has come a long way. Today tobacco products are banned from commercials and smoking is on the decline. But don't be fooled. Tobacco companies still spend almost $10 billion a year on marketing. And most of that goes to programs that make cigarettes cheaper -- meaning more accessible to kids.

Smoking continues to show up in movies and in social media marketing. Plus, new products like e-cigs and flavored cigarettes are gaining popularity with kids. And once they’re hooked, they’re likely to continue the unhealthy habit into adulthood.

So how can you counter all the messages to light up?

Parent tips for younger kids

  • Try to keep your children away from ads and entertainment with smoking. Tell them that smoking makes people really sick – and makes them smell bad!
  • Deglamorize cigarette smoking in entertainment. Talk with your kids about smoking scenes. Ask your kids if they realize that cigarette companies have used product placement to lure them into being future smokers.
  • Share smoking facts. Kids think they’re immune and immortal. The death statistics could be eye-opening, even for the “won’t happen to me” age group.

Parent tips for middle and high school kids

  • Don’t buy in. Debunk myths about cigarettes and weight management and about “light” cigarettes. Don’t let your kids buy posters of “cool” movie characters or celebrities who are smoking.
  • Don’t kid yourself. Young teens are influenced profoundly by celebrity behavior, and they will do whatever it takes to be cool. If you suspect your teen is smoking, it’s time for a tough talk on the health consequences of the choice they’re making.


About Caroline Knorr

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
My kids think it's cool to smoke because their favorite actors do. How do I deglamorize it?

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Comments (3)

Adult written by Randompersongurl

"And most of that goes to programs that make cigarettes cheaper -- meaning more accessible to kids." So they spend billions of dollars on programs to make it cheaper for.........minors who are not even allowed to legally buy them? Isn't that like spending millions of dollars in order to sell cocaine out in the open in a fully licensed store? That's some seriously wasted money and not a good business strategy! I mean I work at a store that sells tobacco products and I can assure you, there are all sorts of rules and regulations concerning minors, regardless of prices. We're not even allowed to let them handle a product relating to tobacco, let alone sell it to them.
Teen, 14 years old written by Jake.Jacobs

in the first paragraph it says that its making it cheaper and easier for kids but really if your a kid you cant just walk into a tobacco store and buy these things. its definetly not the kids supplying them selves.
Adult written by Senser123

I feel all cigarette marijuana 'crack cocaine and flavored/ E-cigarette smoking should be banned from all advertising and media more than ever except in Anti-Drug P.S.A's on the smoking subject like the Tabaco products were banned from TV advertising in the 1970's and all the money spent on Tabaco marketing should be spent more than in the past on making cigarettes unaccessable to the under 18 set .