May 31 is World No-Tobacco Day, which emphasizes the dangers associated with smoking and other tobacco use. Each year, approximately 400,000 people die from tobacco-related causes, making it the leading cause of preventable deaths.
The Orange County Tobacco Education Coalition (OC TEC) is a local organization that has “worked hard for twenty years to denormalize tobacco use in Orange County” and “protect Orange County residents and children,” says OCTEC Chair Claire Braeburn. OCTEC consists of thirty-five local and national agencies, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.
OCTEC is not just a coalition of agencies. Local parents are involved, too. One way for parents to feel more empowered to talk to their children about the dangers of smoking is to attend OCTEC meetings, which are held every other month. Braeburn added that at OCTEC meetings, parents can learn about the “newest trends to look out for, such as smokeless tobacco”, and obtain tobacco-related literature.
“It’s never too young to talk about the risks of smoking,” Braeburn stated. Kids as young as three years old can get involved in cigarette butt pickups at beaches and parks. These types of events can be the spark for conversations about how smoking “hurts other people around and the environment.”
Parents should tailor the non-smoking message to the age of the child. For younger kids, emphasis might be placed on how smoking harms the environment. Older kids are better able to handle discussions and see pictures illustrating the damage done to the body by smoking and using tobacco.
Braeburn emphasized that children learn by modeling their parents, so the best way to keep your kids from smoking is to not smoke. If you want help quitting, or if your child needs help to quit smoking, the OCTEC website features a list of local resources for tobacco cessation services.
No-Tobacco Day is a great time to stop using tobacco and start educating your family about the risks of tobacco use. Getting involved in OCTEC meetings and events is a big step in the right direction toward a smoke-free family.