Smoking - Key Points to Remember

Talking About Smoking
Research has shown that youth who start smoking during adolescence will be faced with lifelong health consequences. As trust and respect develops between you and your mentee, you may find yourself in an ideal position to help them make healthy choices.
  •  Smoking during adolescence can lead to lifelong health consequences.
  • There are multiple reasons why youth start smoking, including peer influence, low socio- economic status, a history of smoking in the family, and others.
  • If youth don’t start smoking by the end of high school, they are much less likely to ever smoke.
  • As mentor, you may find yourself in an ideal position to help your mentee make healthy choices and lead a smoke-free life.
  • Smoking can be a very sensitive discussion topic, so it’s important to first consult with program staff.
  • Starting a conversation about smoking out of the blue can cause your mentee to feel like they are being questioned or accused. Be patient and wait for the ‘teachable moments’ that frequently arise with matches.
  • When talking to your mentee about smoking, avoid blaming, judging, preaching and scare tactics. Keep an open mind and focus on promoting positive behaviours. Ask questions that encourage further discussion.
  • Always maintain appropriate boundaries when talking with your mentee. Avoid taking on the role of a parent, teacher or psychologist.
  • Take your mentee’s culture, ethnicity and family background into consideration. These may have had an influence of their attitude and perception towards smoking.
  • Maintain confidentiality with your mentee unless you perceive them to be at risk, in order to preserve their trust.
  • Always practice tolerance and kindness. Your mentee is much more likely to respond to you if you approach them with the best intentions.