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How to Know If a Teen Is Smoking

by Mika Lo
  • Overview

    Teens face many challenges and can easily succumb to peer pressure as well as their own curiosity. Teens often assert their independence by testing limits and challenging authority. Although teens should be encouraged to explore new things, this self-discovery can become complicated when the choice is made to engage in risky behavior. Smoking cigarettes is just one way that teens experiment with danger and can be a precursor to other negative habits. Knowing if your teen is smoking can help you determine your best actions to minimize further complications.
 
  • Step 1

    Look for physical symptoms of smoking. Assessing your teen's health can alert you to hidden smoking habits. Notice if his teeth are yellowing or if he has developed a cough. Take note of bad breath, wheezing and increased trouble keeping pace while walking or running. Look for signs of nicotine dependence, such as difficulty concentrating and irritability.
  • Step 2

    Use your sense of smell. Cigarette smoke has a distinct odor and can be a strong indicator of a teen's hidden habits. Noticing changes in her hair, clothing and room odors can alert you to underlying issues. Keep in mind that teens often cover up their smoking with perfumes and air fresheners, so paying attention to "fragrance clouds" is essential.
  • Step 3

    Perform physical searches for evidence of smoking. Finding empty cigarettes packs and discarded cigarette butts can be a dead giveaway that your teen is smoking. Scan common areas, including trashcans, for this physical evidence. Check his pockets when washing clothes to look for forgotten items. Inspect his car and other personal belongings for hidden cigarettes stashes, ashes and cigarette butts.
  • Step 4

    Notice her reactions to tobacco usage and information. Making jokes or downplaying the danger of cigarette smoking may be a sign that she has started smoking. Notice if she leaves the room during anti-smoking campaigns or seems nervous while watching them. Gauge her response when she sees others light up for a smoke.
  • Step 5

    Find out about the habits of his inner circle. Teens are often influenced by their friends' actions. Although being associated with a smoker doesn't guarantee your teen will start smoking, it does increase his access to cigarettes.
  • Step 6

    Ask your teen to be honest about her behavior. Using a direct approach may just get you a straight answer. Letting teens know that you can be trusted increases the likelihood of honest communication. If your teen discloses that she has started smoking, it's important to restrain your outrage to prevent further defiance and mistrust.
  • 3
  • Monitoring your teen's spending habits can also alert you to hidden behaviors. Finding out how much your teen smokes can help you decide how to help him quit.
  • Monitoring your teen's spending habits can also alert you to hidden behaviors.
  • Finding out how much your teen smokes can help you decide how to help him quit.
  • Avoid being caught searching your teen's belongings, as this could damage your relationship.
  • Avoid being caught searching your teen's belongings, as this could damage your relationship.

References & Resources