Thoughtful Parenting: Keep kids tobacco free

Cassandra Vigil/For Steamboat Today

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition would like to remind you of the importance of limiting the use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana and to steer clear of illegal substances this holiday season and always.

The most important precaution to keep your family safe is to limit youth access to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. If it is not in your house, your youth cannot get their hands on it in their home. With all the other ways youth can get access to tobacco products, let’s make sure that within their own homes is not one of them.

Nicotine exists naturally within the tobacco plant. It is a highly addictive drug that can lock a user in from their first time trying it. People younger than 25 who try tobacco have a higher risk of dependency, because their brains are still developing.

Nicotine is one of the most abused addictive drugs in the United States. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and of disease in the U.S. Nicotine enters the brain at faster rates depending on how the tobacco is used. For example, when smoking a cigarettes, nicotine reaches the brain in just 10 seconds.

Nicotine addiction in youth and adults causes both immediate and long-term health effects.

Smoking can cause cardiovascular damage, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, death and a slew of other health problems. There are also a number of social problems that can occur among youth tobacco users. Kids may start because they see their older role models, including their parents, using, and they think it is OK. Or a kid may start using because of peer pressure. Billions of dollars spent on tobacco advertising geared toward youth by the big tobacco companies.

Whatever reason they choose to use, the end result is unpleasant. Youth who choose to use may start to care less about school, sports and other healthy and positive extracurricular activities. Youth who start smoking are also more likely to turn toward alcohol and other drugs. According to a National Institute of Health 2011 article titled Why Nicotine is a Gateway drug, “Scientists have long recognized that cigarettes and alcohol raise the risk for later use of illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine. In a recent national survey, more than 90 percent of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine.”

Also, there is a strong relationship between youth smoking and depression, anxiety and stress.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent the young people in your life from using tobacco products:

• Do not keep tobacco products where youth can gain access to them. Keep them on you or properly locked away

• Encourage youth to be involved in positive activities throughout their lives, including sports, music, positive youth clubs and community service.

• Encourage higher academic achievement, aspirations and positive choices

• Talk to your kids about the danger of using tobacco products. They will listen

• Do not use tobacco products around your kids. Remember, parents have more influence over their children than friends, music, TV, the Internet and celebrities. Also, secondhand smoke has 7,000 chemicals, and more than 70 of them are carcinogens.

Cassandra Vigil is currently the Moffat County director for Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, but is transitioning into the role of the Routt County director. Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is a free and local substance abuse prevention resource for youth throughout northwest Colorado. Learn more at and Vigil can be reached at 970-879-6188 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.