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Kids and Smoking

Most of today's adult tobacco users started before they were 18 years old. Youth nicotine or tobacco use in any form, whether smoked, smokeless or "vaped" (e-cigarettes, "vaping" or Juuls), is not safe. Today, electronic cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product in youth.

We have taken steps to reduce youth tobacco use, but it is still a big problem. All tobacco products, including most e-cigarettes, contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development in youth. People who start using tobacco at an early age are more likely to develop an addiction than those who start at a later age, and kids who use vapor products are more likely to go on to smoke cigarettes.

Why Do Kids Start Using Tobacco?

Parents, social pressure, advertising, stigma—there are different reasons a young person might try tobacco. Learn the reasons why some kids start and how to help them be tobacco-free.

How to Keep Kids Tobacco-Free

Keeping youth from starting is critical and they need your help. Youth tobacco use can be prevented by families, schools, communities and policymakers joining together. For example:

  • Parents can set a good example for their kids by not using tobacco and keeping their homes tobacco-free.
  • Schools can provide tobacco prevention programs (such as INDEPTH) to educate students about the dangers of tobacco and tobacco cessation programs to help young people.
  • States can pass legislation to increase taxes on tobacco products, pass and implement comprehensive smokefree indoor air laws, and limit minors' access to tobacco products through raising the age of purchase and restricting flavors.

What You Need to Know about E-Cigarettes

The Surgeon General reports e-cigarette use among youth is now an epidemic. Learn about e-cigarettes and get downloadable resources for parents, schools and teens.

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Tips for Parents

See how you can talk to your kids about smoking and call 1-800-LUNGUSA to talk to a specialist at our Lung HelpLine.

    Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed February 25, 2019.

    Page Last Updated: August 14, 2019

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