Nicotine is a chemical in cigarettes, pipe tobacco, cigars, and smokeless (chewing) tobacco. It is both a stimulant, which increases energy, and a sedative, which calms your child down.
Abuse and dependence are patterns of using tobacco that lead to serious personal, family and health problems. Abuse is when your child keeps using tobacco even though it causes problems.
If your child continues to abuse tobacco, he can become dependent. When your child is dependent, he:
Most people who use tobacco start before age 18. Children who start smoking at a young age are less likely to quit when they become adults.
At first your child may use tobacco because it makes him feel good or because he wants to change something about his life. He may start smoking to fit in with friends who smoke. He may want to look cool, older, or rebellious. Or he may think it will help him relax and feel better.
The brain makes chemicals that affect thoughts, emotions, and actions. Nicotine changes the balance of these chemicals in your child’s brain. When your child uses nicotine regularly, his brain starts to get used to it. As a result, he doesn't feel right unless he uses nicotine. When he stops using nicotine, the balance of chemicals in his brain changes, which causes the symptoms of withdrawal.
Your child may like the feel, smell, and sight of a cigarette and the ritual of handling, lighting, and smoking cigarettes. If your child tries to quit smoking, giving up these rituals may make withdrawal symptoms and cravings worse.
Signs of smoking may include:
If you notice these signs, it does not mean that your child is smoking regularly, but you should talk with your child.
When your child tries to quit using tobacco, he may feel irritable, depressed, hungry, tired, and restless. He may have trouble sleeping or trouble concentrating.
If your child is using tobacco:
If your child is ready to quit, help him:
Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigs, are battery-operated devices that look like a cigarette or cigar. They make a smokeless vapor that the user inhales. The vapor contains many chemicals, and often contains nicotine. E-cigs are not a good way to quit smoking because:
If you use tobacco: