What do you say to a teenager caught smoking?

in #smoking2 months ago

Things were going well, I had posted for 5 days in a row and was aiming for a post each day for a week for the first time in a long time. However, I have a decent excuse as to why no content arrived yesterday....

Late morning I missed a call from an unknown number. My watch notifies me of the call but I was in a video meeting with the team, and as I've already been slapped for seemingly not paying attention (it's boring AF), I thought taking a personal call mid-meeting wouldn't go down well.

An answerphone message was left, and I listened to a rather upset sounding girl asking for a call back. At first, I didn't recognise my daughters voice as we tend to do FaceTime calls, and so I sent the recording on to her mum who was 'pretty sure' it was her.

I rang the number back, no answer, and replied with a text that went unread. Her mum was working, and so she sent me the number for Student Services at the school. I called the number and spoke to a chap who confirmed my daughter had been with them earlier but was now in class.

So what happened? Well, apparently she has been caught smoking on the way to school. Not cool, but not the end of the world and actually a relief to hear considering how upset she sounded on the voice message. The reason for her being so upset was mainly fear, fear of the consequences when her mother found out - the school is required to inform parents, especially when a lighter is found in a bag, doh.


So after I heard the news I spoke with my daughters mother on the phone. It's not something we do often, but I thought it would be a suitable time for some parental communication, and my main goal was to prepare her for the school's call in the hope she would not come down on our daughter like a tonne of bricks.

The thing is, she smoked, I smoked, her husband smoked, and I'm pretty sure we all first tried cigarettes as young teens. Although, perhaps not 'outside the school gates' - not very subtle!

The reason my daughter was calling me, was that she wished to stay the night - not wanting to face big bad mother just yet. Of course this was no problem, but when I did finally get to speak to her, I did mention that prolonging seeing mother would probably not help. Anyway, she was adamant she wanted to stay over, and that's what happened.

I think my daughter was 9 the last time she stayed at mine, 4 years out of the country and not living 5 minutes walk from school have been a major factor in this, and it was nice to spend time with her. We went shopping for some pants, played a bit of table-tennis at the station (finally I got a game of sorts!), and I tried to drop in some chat about the days events.

What to say though, and more importantly, how to say it so that it's not going in one ear and out the other?

Smoking is shit, don't do it

Is unlikely to work. I know she knows it was a bad idea, her sadness and fear of the consequences were enough to show that. But getting the message through that it's not cool, especially when friends are doing it seems tough. On speaking with her, it seems she is resentful/annoyed that her mother proclaims to have been a model teenager, although tip-offs from grandma have stated otherwise. One thing I tried to explain was that it matters not how her mother was, and whilst she is still a minor and living under her mum's roof, she's the boss and makes the rules.

I'm not sure if I did so well making clear smoking is crap, and mainly just made my place somewhere to relax and mull over the days events in the hope she'd be set for school today, and following that, face her mum and accept the impending bollocking. Her mum told me she'd be taking the sad/disappointed angle, and so hopefully there wont be too much shouting. I passed this message on to my daughter, and she didn't seem too convinced.

You know my mum

Yes, yes I do.

I suspect there are a few parents who can relate to the above, or maybe you were the 'naughty' teenager caught fagging it by a teacher?

Anyway, I waved her off this morning as she took the 40 minute ride on the bus to school, hopefully. My day is already 3 hours long and it's not 9am yet, zzzzz.

Thanks for reading, have a good Friday!




No easy way out of this one. I smoked and still do from time to time but it's hard to tell teens what to do.
All you really can do is try to show what a bad idea that it is in the long run, money, looks, health and hope that she is smart enough to make good choices.

Teens are always going to try things and push boundaries like we all did and there is nothing that will stop it. Best case scenario is that they have some good sense as to where those boundaries should stop and grow out of it over time.

Having a good relationship with your parents helps as you can at least talk about these things rather than try to hide all of it. Talking goes a long way in life.

Teachers used to join us behind the church for a few sneaky fags back in the day as they couldn't be seen smoking on school grounds. Nobody cared that much back then and ou teachers were sound enough about most things. Not even that long ago really.

All you really can do is try to show what a bad idea that it is in the long run, money, looks, health and hope that she is smart enough to make good choices.

Yes I think so. Her mum will likely take a harder approach, but that is where she lives so I think that's expected. I mentioned the shitty lungs being no good for swimming, and how much they cost - she didn't know as was given it by a mate who had got older mates to buy them.

I'm fairly laid back, and do remind her that she can talk to me about whatever, it hasn't really happened much so far though.

Teachers used to join us behind the church for a few sneaky fags back in the day...

Quality. I don't remember seeing any teachers smoking, although we knew which ones did. Times have changed - they'd be sacked for that these days?!


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How great that your daughter turned to you. Sounds like your relationship with her is going well.

I was both the parent and the 'naughty' teenager in such situations. In fact, I was way, way, naughtier than them. That I know of anyway! 😁

I think "getting the message" across is not worth focussing on. Sounds like you did a great job anyway.

she knows it was a bad idea

That's the key sentence for me. I stressed a lot more with my first trying to get things right and then I noticed that, most of the time, kids have a wisdom of their own (as we all do), so with my second I stepped back more and let him work stuff out for himself. He did an excellent job at it.

They know a lot more than we give them credit for in my experience. What she wanted from you was support so she could deal with the expected fall out from her mum and you gave her that. She has her own wisdom about smoking! 😍

Thank you :)

Yes it is personally a nice feeling to feel required, and I think I did OK with not over-doing it with the smoking talk - are teenagers ever listening to do's and dont's?!

They know a lot more than we give them credit for...

I'm sure, and I think she'll figure it out. These years are rocky eh, and so i'm happy to be the travelers rest, if nothing else :)


What @gillianpearce said :)
Lovely that she was able to come to you, great to have that relationship.

Yep, the designated soft touch :) It is nice, I feel useful again!

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Where I live it's not uncommon to see middle school children smoking. To the point where the school can't even stop it. It's so sad to see another generation hoodwinked. Maybe show her some google images of what smoking can do to your teeth. And when you're out and about and you notice someone that smells like cigarette (which is a really bad smell now that I've quit smoking. Man, I used to smell like that all the time) point it out to her. That's what she would smell like too. Even if she uses deoderant and perfume.

I did think about showing some images, but I saw them as a teen and they had no effect on me - that's what old people's lungs look like, I'm younger and invincible!

But yeah, the smell is minging - I smoked for many years and hated the smell for most of them.


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I am lucky my son does not like smoking but some friends have faced the same situation you are. One of them told me what he did, and I thought it could be a good way to face it.
All he did was look for images on the internet showing the lungs of smokers and how they get affected. Then, he sat with his son in front of the computer and showed him the consequences we do not see when we smoke but are real.

Not sure if it worked but an image (or several) tells much more than 1000 words. :)

Your son is smart :)

The images are pretty brutal, and here they are on the packs. I have trouble relating even now, so I'm not sure how most teens would fare.


They are in the packs here too, but I am afraid the impact on the packs is useless. It is more impacting showing them videos or real people lungs with the individuals talking. It is probably the same as drinkers face whenever they are sent to a talk of someone in a wheelchair telling them what happened to them for drinking and driving.
Unfortunately, we are so used to images and movies we do not get "hit" by reality unless it is someone we can interact directly with.

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My mum use to throw tantrums when my elder brothers came home smelling like cigarettes. One of them quit after he found Jesus in his mid 30s, and the other one still smokes but only occasionally.

I've met a few teenagers that smoke and I honestly have no clue what to say to them to make them stop. However, I just describe the health risk of smoking and if the person still wants to continue, that's not on me..

I drink quite a lot too and so, I'm not even sure if I'm the right role model to listen to on the topic. I grew up seeing my parents drink and use to steal shots of whiskey and gin when I was like 12. Now I'm older, and drink quite a lot, my mum tries to stop me from drinking, while drinking, it is really funny.

In hindsight though, I say you handled it pretty well, considering the circumstances. You just have to be honest in the situation and the best you can do is inform her of the consequence of smoking.

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Thanks man :)

...I'm not even sure if I'm the right role model to listen to on the topic...

It's how I feel, as an ex-smoker who was in her shoes a fair few years ago.

I'm sure she's boozing with mates at times, but I got in earlier this year with that one, although I'm not sure if she was listening or not :)


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Shitty situation for all of you and I believe you can say anything to her right now as her biggest concern is not that she did something wrong but that she got caught. She was more afraid of how her mom and you reaction and what is about to come, punishment I mean.

At that age all you see is the others are smoking and that is cool at some level. She knows it's not healthy but she also knows it won't kill her instantly, you can live a long life smoking (let's not discuss the quality of your health after a life long smoking now).

Maybe if you can make her understand that there are other ways to be cool, to look cool in the eyes of the others, to be appreciated by the others.

I'm an ex-smoker, but I started later than your daughter, after I finished school and have never been a heavy smoker.

Anyway, let's see if she has learned anything from this incident.

Lol, I forgot to mention how hard it is to tell her smoking is wrong if you all have been smokers once 😀 My dad used to say he has been a smoker and that was wrong, he regrets it, and I used to tell him he needed decades to realize that.

Yeah, words on deaf ears and she is most concerned about mum's reaction, which I hope isn't too shouty - pointless.

There are many ways to be cool for sure, she just needs to be her normal jovial self. She is good a sports, although Covid has restricted those for the time being - hopefully, when swimming starts again next week, this will provide a good distraction.

Yes, let's see...


There you go, you have a good point there. You can explain to her how smoking can diminish her evolution in swimming. Smoking is the biggest enemy of any sports. Sabotaging your lungs and expecting the best results is not something that works.

Yep, I will mention this in passing when Swimming is the topic - got to be one of the worst things you can do with regards to this and most sports.

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Yeah, sounding like a hypocrite even though regretful...

I think for around half the time I smoked cigarettes, I hated the fact I did. They are terribly addictive and I wish they were never invented.

Smoking, drinking, drugs, you name it. But then again, this is an industry with a lot of money involved, taxes, etc. Should I say more?

Aw man, it's a tough one. I'm worth you, when you have smoked and the family has smoked what can you say? Smoking is shit is probably the best anyone could come up with.

I literally think nothing anyone said when I was young could have stopped me! You did well!

Cheers dude :)

It does seem like a big ask to make anything stick inside a teenagers brain, hopefully she'll figure it out - or face the wrath of mother!

The wrath of a mother is a stern thing indeed, at least you get to be the cool understanding dad!

I know, but her one of those awesome big gun like vapes! Then she would be cool and healthy (ier)!!

If I'm too cool and understanding, the wrong message could be sent!

Same as buying a vape, as I release another cloud :D

What our parents did was buy a fuck tonne of cigarettes and make you smoke it all in front of them until you pass out lol

haha, did that work?!

They are 12/15$ here, I'm not sure i could afford that approach!

LOL well I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, watching my cousin go through that was traumatic enough.

So it sorta worked, indirectly. Have you told them? they'll probably have a laugh about it :)

Oh we have a laugh about it regularly, there was also one time my other cousin ate all the prawns out of the paella before all sat down to eat, so they made him eat the entire bowl by himself!

That was a classic, he literally was sweating and taking his clothes off and jumping up and down to try and get it all down. Eventually, it all came back up, he never pulled that shit again

The childhood trauma runs deep in our family

hahaha, i'm loving this approach, although I can see some drawbacks.

Imagine lighting a fire and the same punishment being applied :)

Lmao. Imagine buying me a tonne of alcohol to make me stop drinking. Need to show this to my parents 😆

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LOL i'd much rather my parents catch me buying BTC and then forcing me to buy more, no Daddy I am overleveraged, no you want BTC, keep buying

Just don't sell any of their stuff to buy BTC, even though it's looking rather tempting today.

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Ok been there two times aswell, and still 2 kids to go. Yes they were just as upset and proud to be smoking with friends. We took the relaxed approach and hear from the 21 year old we have that our girl is doing STOPTOBER, october is the month that all dutch try to quit , and the young 17 year old prince well, he is dating a non smoker so who knows. Parenthing pffffff

Good luck to them in stoptober!

Hopefully the princess has enough influence to guide the prince :)

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hello dear friend @ abh12345 good night
I don't think there is a correct answer on how to approach an adolescent when he is caught offending smoking, getting angry and shouting at the sky is not the solution, prohibiting it either, the prohibited attracts more; I think the best way to approach is to show the consequence of smoking, especially how it affects the body and the state of health of people with age.
It is good that your daughter has come to you and I think you have done very well
I take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful weekend

getting angry and shouting at the sky is not the solution..

Yes I agree also. We must hope she figures it out herself.

Thank you and have a lovely weekend also!


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Ohhh this must be tough. I never smoked and I have no kids yet so dealing with a teenager and telling them smoking is bad is a tough challenge. I think you handled it with the best of your abilities, teenagers are quite rebellious sometimes.

I do hope she quits because smoking is bad for her skin, lungs and ovwrall health and wallet lol. I guess time will tell.

Have a great weekend Asher!

Thanks Mary :)

bad for her skin, lungs and overall health and wallet...

Yes, so many negatives, and it's other family members wallets that could be affected the most!

Have an awesome weekend too!


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I wouldn't worry as it will be a phase she is going through. Rather that than drugs. Both my kids smoked as I couldn't sat very much having worked for a cigarette company as well. My son was caught smoking cigars under his bed and he was about 8.
I am happy she turned to you as that is good. Lets hope she grows out of this and it is a lesson in growing up.

Cigars under the bed aged 8, that's pretty early and a tough introduction to smoke for the lungs!

Lets hope she grows out of this and it is a lesson in growing up

Yes, I'm hoping the attention this has gotten her is enough to think twice.


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BT gives Asher a pass on missing a day. There. You are excused :)

I was that kid. I stole cigarettes from my father (there'd be hell to pay if caught :)). I drank. I got a ticket for racing the very first day I had my driver's license.

So the question I'd have is this: which is the worst transgression? Smoking or getting caught smoking? Smoking is shit, and we all know it. But it's still a choice (and I still smoke).

Getting caught smoking is a violation of house rules that can't be completely dismissed. But in the overall course of things it's the attitude that's important not the call, I think.

Nobody said being a parent was going to be easy.

Phew, thanks Tom!

Parenting is both rewarding and tough at times, I'm 'lucky' in the sense I don't deal with the day to day and act more as a safe haven.

I'm pretty sure she is more concerned about being caught than the effects of smoking, but hopefully it will have the right effect - not to bother with ciggies until you live under your own rules.



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Just being there, providing a safe place for her and not freaking out was a good way to go...She'll smoke as an adult or not, nothing you say will probably affect that either way; But she'll remember well that you weren't a dick about it. But I'm not a parent so I have no clue.

Not a parent but still able to offer some wise words, and I appreciate them :)

I do feel that trying to drill the 'do not smoke' line is pointless, let's see if she has been shaken enough to not bother again in the near future.


Thanks...Yeah, let's hope...Smoking really is shit. I hope she doesn't take it up. You know what I hate the most...Driving in my car and getting a whiff of someone's cigarette smoke from another car. Infuriating!

I used to smoke, and the smell disgusted me at the time and even more so now. Rank and expensive, and so bloody addictive - evil.

So so expensive. $50 a packet here...So dumb.

That is insane, but I like the fact it costs so much - I hope it is enough to put many off.

Yes, that's one effect of it and the government make a lot of tax revenue too...Which is why they cost so much in the first place. I've never been a smoker so I don't understand the addiction, although it's real enough...So many chemicals in cigarettes. Nothing good I guess.

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This is what I'll say, "I'll be devastated if you die earlier than me!"
Besides, it's bad for your skin. I'll be sad if you look older than me in another 10 years.

That thought did cross my mind actually, and I think I will say something similar if there is a repeat occurrence. Very sad when you hear this has happened.


I think the below line might be better
"You're such a beautiful girl, it's a pity if you look older than your mom in another 10 years. Please love yourself more!"

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I say to him, i was stupid as you at i was young like you. ;-)

haha yeah, it is true :)

My father beat the crap out of me when he caught me smoking. It did not stop me from smoking... I think this is the choice of the kid honestly, and the best thing to do in this situation is nothing. The kid will figure it out on their own.

A hiding for nothing then!

I hope she's smart enough to figure it out.

everyone must figure these things out for themselves - that's life - making choices - and making mistakes and then correcting the mistakes - for me cigarettes helped with my anxiety until I could find a spiritual connection strong enough to overcome that anxiety - I have not had a cig for 20 years but I smoked for 15 - but I had terrible anxiety and could not function - so ... it worked until I could find someething else

It’s kinda weird to think your ex would mind too much when she smokes as well.

She did smoke, as a teen and into her 20's, and i think she still has a sneaky one now and again. That's why I think being too harsh is a bit hypocritical.