Parenting Expert Conveys Six Surprising Reasons Kids Choose to Smoke

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Peer pressure is what many people think of when imagining why kids try their first cigarette. Dr. Michael Popkin reveals six reasons that may not always be top of mind.

Are you a parent seeking answers about why your kids do the things they do? While we may never understand their choices in clothing or hair color, we do have some insight on why smoking may be on your child’s radar.

Blaming peer pressure is old school. According to Dr. Michael Popkin, published parenting expert and spokesperson for the youth smoking prevention program “Real Parents Real Answers,” kids may choose to smoke for a number of reasons, but six of the most common include: peer conformity, popular media, lack of confidence, self medication, boredom and misinformation.

1.    Peer Conformity – Peer pressure may still exist, but peer conformity is having an even greater influence on kids. Instead of “friends” convincing your kids they should smoke, your child may willingly choose to smoke because of internal pressure they’re putting on themselves to fit in.

2.    Popular Media - Parents may have limited control about the social group their child chooses to hang out with, but a parent can monitor their child’s media intake. Studies show that kids who have seen three or more R-rated movies may be more likely to start smoking than those who had not.

3.    Lack of Confidence - Boosting your child’s self confidence can make them less susceptible to experimenting with cigarettes. A confident child understands that the short-term benefit of fitting in does not outweigh the long-term costs of smoking.

4.    Self Medication - Being a tween and teen is challenging. Turning to cigarettes, drugs or alcohol to help lessen stress or as an escape from reality is an easy and accessible way for kids to make a quick fix.

5.    Boredom – Some children have a tough time being alone or staying occupied, making them a top candidate to experiment with smoking. The social aspect of smoking can create bonds between peers and fills the boredom void.

6.    Misinformation – This is the most preventable reason kids choose to smoke. Peers exert a greater influence on behaviors than a parent, which means it’s critical your child be knowledgeable on the very real dangers of smoking.

Real Parents Real Answers has been providing parents with information to help raise healthy, confident children that make good decision, such as staying smoke-free, for nearly a decade. For more information that will help parents effectively communicate with their children about staying smoke free, visit

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