You Found Your Teen Smoking — Here’s How To Help Them Quit


You smell smoke on your teen’s clothes. You see a vape pen left out on their desk. You pick them up early and catch them smoking in front of the school.

There are many ways you could learn that your teen is smoking, but you might feel at a loss for how to address it. You know you need to do something, but where to start?

Did You Know: Smoking Habits Start Early

Nearly 9 out of 10 adult smokers have their first cigarette before the age of 18. Helping your teen now can protect their lungs for a lifetime.

While the journey to quit smoking is rarely an easy one, your teen already has one thing to their advantage — they have you on their side. A support system can be the difference between wanting to smoke and wanting to quit, and your teen is lucky to have you — even if they don’t realize it yet.

Here are four things you can do to help your teen quit smoking.

1. Have calm and open conversations.

Realizing your teen is smoking can bring up many different emotions. You might feel angry, sad, or disappointed. But those emotions won’t necessarily help you have the honest conversations you need to have with your teen.

If you find out that your teen has been smoking, don’t go into a conversation angry. Take the time to find your calm, and let your teen guide the conversation. Try asking open-ended questions like:

  • “How long have you been smoking?”
  • “How does smoking make you feel?”
  • “Do you know what’s in the cigarettes or vape pens that you’re smoking?”
  • “What do you think about the dangers of smoking?”

Remember, you don’t want to make this conversation a lecture, so empower your teen to do most of the talking, and don’t interrupt them — even if you disagree with what they’re saying.

Let your teen know that it’s okay to talk to you, and that you can provide them a safe space to work through quitting. In moments like this, you can be your teen’s biggest cheerleader or the figure they choose to rebel against.

2. Be supportive — even if your teen relapses.

When it comes to quitting smoking, no one is in charge except for the person who is trying to quit, even when that person is a teenager. While you are a part of this journey, remember you are walking alongside your teen — and not just dragging them along.

Quitting smoking at any age is a challenge, and research shows that many people relapse and try to quit multiple times before quitting for good.

Don’t look at your teen relapsing as a failure, but rather a practice run at the real thing. Praise them for trying to quit, whether they have gone a month, a week, or just a day without smoking.

3. Know your family’s history with addiction.

If your family has a history of addiction, consider sharing that information with your teen. Addiction is often a family disease, so understanding any underlying genetic factors will be helpful now, as well as throughout your teen’s life.

It might be scary to open up about your own past, but knowing their family medical history can help your teen make informed decisions — and possibly understand their own addiction better.

4. Find a local or national youth tobacco initiative.

The moment you find a vape pen in your home or catch a whiff of smoke coming from your teen’s clothes can make you feel like you are alone.

If you find yourself feeling isolated or not knowing what to do, it’s important to remember that you — and your teen — are not alone. Your Children’s Omaha pediatrician can offer support and guidance as you work towards your teen’s smoke-free future.

There are also many organizations at the local and national level that can support your teen in their journey to quit smoking:

  • Not On Tobacco: The American Lung Association offers a guided program that supports teens in their efforts to quit smoking.
  • offers support and resources for quitting, including tools for teens to create a “Vaping Quit Plan.”
  • Tobacco Free Nebraska: The state’s tobacco prevention program provides resources that can help your teen quit smoking.

Let’s Take The First Step Together

Smoking is a dangerous habit, and there is no bad time to start a journey towards quitting. Being a part of that journey with your own teen may be challenging, but you have the power to offer them support, resources, and encouragement.

If you are worried about your teen smoking or vaping, contact their pediatrician to build a plan to help your teen quit.

NEW: Adolescent Medicine at Children’s

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Children’s Physicians has always treated adolescent patients. But to even further meet the unique needs of this age group, we have opened a new department focused solely on adolescent medicine.

Learn More About Adolescent Medicine at Children’s


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