As a senior, you are likely already wiser and an excellent source of personal experience and information that you can offer to your grandkids, or too young people in general. As someone with COPD, who might need to use oxygen therapy on a regular basis, you can use your experience with this to convince them about the dangers of smoking. If you can get them to stop while they are young or prevent them from lighting their first cigarette, you've just saved them from the higher possibility that they will deal with this chronic disease later on.
It can be hard to get through to young people. Many young people, as well as adults, believe that they are indestructible and that could never happen to them. As a living example, however, you can help them by using these tips.
Practice what you preach. Hopefully, you've already quit smoking. If you are trying to tell your grandkids not to smoke with a cigarette in your hand, they probably won't listen to you. If you've quit smoking or if you have just started on the road to quitting, you can mention this to them, and they will see how hard you are trying to stay healthy. They will see that if their grandma or grandpa can do it, then it's possible for them to quit. Seeing how hard it is to quit (as well as how dangerous tobacco smoke is) can also help prevent them from starting smoking.
Ask them about how they feel about smoking. Don't just assume that they want to smoke. Some kids aren't as affected by peer pressure as others, and some don't like the smell of cigarette smoke and have no desire to light a cigarette. Pay attention to your grandchild and ask them if they have ever thought of smoking a cigarette.
Once you've quit smoking, your sense of smell will improve, and you will be able to detect trace amounts of cigarette smoke on them if they have been smoking. Don't accuse them of smoking, but get a casual conversation started. As long as they feel comfortable talking to you, they will likely be honest with you on the subject.
Take it easy on them but give them the facts. Don't get angry with them if you've found out they have been smoking. Gently explain to them what happens if they continue to smoke. Don't be condescending, as teenagers will be more likely to stop listening and disregard what you say. Tell them about how you need to use oxygen therapy because you don't have enough oxygen in your blood on your own.
Explain to them factual, medical terms about how your lungs have been damaged. Tell them about how hard it is to breathe sometimes when you are doing something you enjoy. Don't sugar-coat the facts, and don't think you need to dumb yourself down – teenagers are often smarter than they let on.
Speak to them in large numbers. If you want to take it a step further, go to your grandchild's school officials and offer to speak to them in the auditorium about the dangers of smoking. That way, a particularly stubborn young person will be forced to sit and listen to what you are saying. For your grand kid's sake, you don't need to point out that you are their grandparent, as this will likely embarrass them! Just stick to the facts and share your experience with the disease and quitting smoking.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about smoking, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.