One substance that has a negative impact on teen mental and physical health is nicotine.  Although the majority of kids realize that smoking is bad for them, it is really difficult to stop smoking.  When I asked one of my relatives why it was so hard for him to stop, he told me that so much of his daily patterns were centered around smoking.  I had never really thought about how ingrained smoking was in a person’s daily life. In addition to smoking being a part of his everyday routine, smoking had been a great way for him to socialize and make friends.  This really got me thinking about why so many teens start smoking in the first place…to be accepted.  So, why would our teens want to throw down their pack of cigarette and socially isolate themselves on a day like the Great American Smokeout?

Well, I don’t have the answer to this question, but it certainly helps me to see that quitting is not as simple as just throwing down a pack of cigarettes for a day.  In reality, quitting entails helping teens come up with a plan and developing coping skills that adults normally don’t share with teens.  So, this year if your school decides t participates in the Great American Smokeout, you may want to do more than throw up a couple of posters…students need a plan!   

Smoking Plan

Here are some tips from the American Cancer Society and Smoke Free Teen to prepare for Quit Day and Beyond:
  • Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.  Students can download an app (yes, there is an app for quitting) or go to Quit Calendar.
  • Tell friends and family about your Quit Day.
  • Get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and at work.
  • Stock up on oral substitutes – sugarless gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, coffee stirrers, straws, and/or toothpicks.
  • Decide on a plan. Will you use NRT or other medicines? Will you attend a stop-smoking class? If so, sign up now.
  • Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”
  • Set up a support system. This could be a group program or a friend or family member who has successfully quit and is willing to help you. Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you, and not to leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
  • Think about your past attempts to quit. Try to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

On your Quit Day:

  • Do not smoke. This means not at all – not even one puff!
  • Keep active – try walking, short bursts of exercise, or other activities and hobbies.
  • Drink lots of water and juices.
  • Start using nicotine replacement if that’s your choice.
  • Attend a stop-smoking class or follow your self-help plan.
  • Avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong.
  • Avoid people who are smoking.
  • Drink less alcohol or avoid it completely.
  • Think about how you can change your routine. Use a different route to go to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place or eat different foods.

After you quit:

  • Ask others not to smoke around you!
  • Identify triggers and make a plan to avoid them.
  • Ask for support not to smoke. Teens can sign up for a text message from Smokefree Teen for additional support!
  • Remind others you will be grouchy and to be patient with you.
  • Celebrate milestones (24 hours, 48 hours, etc).
  • Prepare for carvings.
  • Throw away ashtrays and lighters.
  • Track and monitor  your progress.
  • N.O.P.E-not one puff ever. However, don’t beat yourself up if you slip.

ucanquit2 Campaign Materials 
Download free social media cover photos and posters for your quit day.

Prevention is Best!  

Of course, prevention efforts are the most effective way to stop smoking!  Below are materials you can use in your school to urge teens not to smoke.

CDC Tobacco Materials for Teachers  – contains posters, videos,  and other materials to be used in the classroom.

Smoking Danger Demonstration -Great for a science class.

Badvertisement-Teaches students how to create truthful advertising posters about smoking by using magazine articles.

Poster from Badvertisement

Joe Chemo-Spinoff of the Joe Camal mascot with quizzes,  campaigns, facts, and activities for students in grades 6-12.

E Card that can be sent by a student.

No Smoking School Campaign Ideas

The Truth-Get the latest facts about tobacco use and put them up around the school.

Fact Posters from the Truth and the CDC. 




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