You try to encourage your kids to lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid the pitfalls of peer pressure, like smoking. But how can you discourage your kids from smoking if you are a smoker yourself? The message you send by telling your kids to do as you say--not as you do--can be confusing and counterproductive.

You have an alternative to this problematic position: Why not set a positive example for your kids this back-to-school season by giving up cigarettes for good? You'll not only help your kids say no to cigarettes, but you'll reduce their risk of exposure to secondhand smoke. And of course, kicking the habit will improve your own health and longevity as well.

Why Quit for Back-to-School?

New beginnings present a great opportunity to make changes. That's why we make resolutions at New Year's--the chance for a fresh start at the beginning of the year makes us feel like we can do anything that we set our minds to do.

But it's not just New Year's that offers this opportunity--other turning points and calendar markers can be equally effective times to start healthy habits.

As your kids prepare for the back-to-school season, you can add special meaning and purpose to this transition time by announcing your plans to quit smoking. Consider giving yourself extra motivation and incentive by coordinating your quit date with their first day of school.

Helping Your Kids

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking harms the health of those around you, as well as your own health. Children are particularly at risk from the effects of secondhand smoke.

The CDC reports that kids raised in smoking households are likely to have more health problems than kids who grow up in smoke-free homes, including:

  • More ear infections
  • More colds
  • Greater susceptibility to bronchitis
  • More breathing problems
  • Greater likelihood of slow lung growth
  • Greater likelihood of headaches, eye irritation, dizziness, and nausea

By quitting now, your kids will be free from the threat of these health problems and will be able to focus more effectively on their schoolwork.

Helping Yourself

Smoking damages almost every organ in your body. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, quitting smoking is the most important action that current smokers can take to improve their chances of a longer and higher quality life.

The CDC reports that among smokers who fail to quit, half will die from a smoking-related illness. That's reason enough to relinquish your daily pack.

HealthAhead Hint: Give a Gift to Remember

It's always tough to let go of a habit. But having a reason outside of yourself can help you take the plunge. Use the back-to-school season to give your kids more than just pencils and books. Give them an extra fresh start this school year by giving up cigarettes and making your home a smoke-free environment. You'll be setting a good example for your children while helping them resist peer pressure to smoke. There's no greater gift than that.