our everyday life

Ideas for Punishment for Teenagers Who Admit to Smoking

by Sara Ipatenco

When your teen first admitted that she smokes, your stomach probably dropped and then you became angry. While you do have the right to be upset, take a step back and deal with the issue calmly. Of course your teen knew that smoking was a bad idea because you've undoubtedly told her repeatedly not to even pick up a cigarette. That alone suggests that a punishment is necessary to deal with the situation and get her back on the right track.

Talk About the Dangers

It's crucial to sit down with your teen and talk about what exactly he's doing to his body when he smokes. You can get as graphic as you like, but discuss what the cigarettes do to his lungs, including upping the risk for lung cancer. Tell your teen that smoking can increase his risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, as well as debilitating breathing problems. You might even tell him exactly what he's putting into his body. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each cigarette includes cyanide (a deadly poison), formaldehyde (which is used to preserve dead bodies) and a variety of poisonous gases. Cigarettes also contain nicotine, which is what makes them addictive. Drive that point home by telling your teen that just one drop of pure nicotine can be fatal. Talk with your teen about the dangers his secondhand smoke poses to his friends and family as well.

Monitor Your Teen's Activities

If you've had a discussion about smoking with your teen and she still refuses to quit, you'll need to step in and monitor her activities more closely. Don't allow her to spend time with friends who smoke, and don't allow her to go to parties where other teens are smoking. Prohibit her from smoking in your home, as well as the homes of her friends and family members. If you're eating out or shopping, don't let her take smoke breaks either. Your goal is to cut down on the time she has to smoke so that she's more capable of quitting. Tell your teen that you realize how hard it may be for her to quit but that you love her and are taking action to help her reach that goal.

Reduce the Funds

Of course, if your teen has his own job, he also has the money to fund his habit, but if he doesn't work, cut off his allowance. Don't give him cash if you suspect that he's using it to buy cigarettes. If he needs money to buy lunch, pack him a lunch instead. The purpose is to send the message that you won't support his habit by giving him the money to purchase cigarettes. Yes, he might bum a smoke from a friend here and there, but without his own money and his own cigarettes, he's more likely to cut down or quit altogether.

Additional Tips

If your teen is addicted to cigarettes, help her find ways to quit. Talk with her doctor to find out if there are programs in your area devoted specifically to teens. Try to resist the temptation to yell, recommends the KidsHealth.org. Stay calm and keep trying because, believe it or not, your teen does listen to you and will eventually get the message. Point out to your teen that she could save close to $2,000 a year on cigarettes just by quitting -- even more in some states. While technically not a punishment, you might tell her that you're willing to give her a portion of that amount towards a car, a new wardrobe, a smartphone or something else she has her eye on, with the stipulation that she must prove she's not smoking anymore.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images