Talking Tobacco With Fifth Graders

What’s the right age to educate students about the repercussions of tobacco use? You’d be surprised how much times change.

Baylor Irving and the City of Irving school district’s, “TobaccokNOw” program is normally introduced in 7th grade classrooms to correspond with lesson plans that detail the respiratory system and the effects that tobacco use can have on your health.

For the first time in 16 years, the dangers of tobacco use are being taught to 5th grade students.

“Students can start smoking as young as 10, 11 or 12,” says Pam Beers, the Community Outreach Coordinator on the staff at Baylor Medical Center at Irving. “So we got feedback from the schools that maybe we were waiting too late.”

The 45-minute presentation is presented to younger students because research indicates that most of children live in a home with a smoker. The emphasis of the lesson is to demonstrate the differences between a smoker and non-smoker but displaying pig lungs, one healthy and pink, the other black and tarred.

How do parents talk about the dangers of smoking with their kids? What needs to be emphasized? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers some helpful topics to direct you in having conversations with your kids.

Be Bold
While it’s often assumed that radio, television and the media indefinitely influence our children, studies show that the greatest influence on a child’s life comes from that of their parents. Approach tobacco use boldly and if there is a family history of tobacco-related illnesses, let your children know.

Be Proactive
Start the conversation with your children as young as 5 or 6-years-old and continue it throughout their high school years. The earlier that children recognize the effect tobacco can have on their bodies, the less likely they are to participate in smoking or other tobacco use.

Be a Partner
Partner with community organizations, schools or local coaches to help convey the dangers of tobacco use. For kids that play sports, coaches can offer a broad perspective on the effects tobacco has on lungs, shortness of breath and on performance on the field.

Simple steps can help protect the health of your children for years to come and begin a life of healthy habits. Learn more about the TobaccokNOw program in this NBC5 story below.

About the author

Garyn Goldston
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Garyn is a proud TCU Horned Frog and a rowdy Dallas-Fort Worth sports fan. He is a former physician liaison for Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital.

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Talking Tobacco With Fifth Graders