Smoking and children

Young people who smoke may

  • cough and have asthma attacks more often and develop respiratory problems leading to more sick days, more doctor’s bills and poorer sports performance
  • be more likely to use alcohol and other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana
  • become addicted and find it extremely hard to quit

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in Ireland causing heart disease, cancers and strokes. You can help your children not to start smoking.

What parents can do?

Despite the impact of cinema, films, music and TV, you may be the greatest influence in your children’s lives.

  • Talk directly to your kids about the risks of smoking. If friends or relatives have died from smoking-related illnesses, let your children know.
  • If you smoke, you can still make a difference. Your best move, of course, is to quit. Meanwhile, don’t smoke when you’re with your children, don’t offer them cigarettes and don’t leave them where kids can easily get them.
  • Talk to your children about smoking from pre-school age and continue through their school years. Some children try smoking by age 11 and many are addicted by age 14.
  • Know if your children’s friends smoke. Talk about ways to refuse cigarettes.
  • Discuss with your children the false glamorisation of smoking in the media, movies, TV and magazines.

What sports coaches can do

  • Recognise your influence with young people. Be a good role model.
  • Don’t smoke around players. Remind them of the importance of being smoke-free.
  • When talking to players, remember they relate more to messages about the immediate effects of smoking (such as poorer athletic performance) than to its long-term health threats.
  • Adopt and enforce a smoke-free policy for players, coaches and referees. Did you know Croke Park is a smoke-free zone?
  • Send a copy of the smoke-free policy home to parents.
  • Make all practices, games and competitions smoke-free – on the field and sidelines and in the stands.
  • Announce and display smoke-free messages at games.
  • Consider partnering with your local tobacco prevention programmes. Voice your support for smoke-free schools, sports and other community events.

 Make a difference in your community

Why schools should be completely smoke-free…

  • Second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard
  • Reinforces other prevention efforts
  • Curriculum efforts alone are not enough
  • Sends consistent message to students
  • Helps staff quit
  • Reduces fire risk
  • Everyone has the right to breathe clean air
  • Helps educate the community about environmental tobacco smoke.