Starting from nicotine addiction to lung cancer, smoking or tobacco consumption comes with all sorts of risks. Warnings like smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease, COPD, and strokes are always written on cigarette packs, yet smoking is highly prevalent in Pakistan. Smokers ignore all the health warnings written on the cigarette packs and continue smoking cigarettes, knowing well that this will cause them significant and probably irreversible health problems. A study conducted in 2018 and published in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association indicated that about 1200 children start smoking every day. Tobacco consumption in the form of cigarette smoking is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives in Pakistan. According to WHO, 13.3% of boys and 6.6% of girls start smoking under the age of 15. These statistics are alarming and it puts every child at risk. When people start smoking, they become addicted to nicotine. Nicotine reaches the smoker’s body, after being absorbed by the blood from the lungs. It floods the reward center of the human brain which results in the release of a chemical substance called dopamine which causes pleasant feelings. That’s how the users become addicted over time and it becomes really difficult for smokers to quit. Some researchers even claimed that nicotine addiction is as strong as heroin or opioid addiction. So how do we protect our kids and make sure they don’t fall into this dangerous habit? In my opinion, the best place to start for parents and teachers who want to protect youth from falling prey to this habit is by putting themselves in their minds. Why exactly would a child want to try smoking? A lot of addicts say that they started smoking when they were in their teens. Young people, especially teenagers, are very vulnerable. Those teenagers who are surrounded by smokers are more likely to start smoking. Many young smokers say that they just wanted to try it once or that they started smoking just to look cool. Our media plays a huge part in showing smoking as glamorous and attractive. The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars to make ads that attract youth and teenagers. E-cigarettes and vaping devices are marketed as safe and shown attractive to influence young people. It is important for parents to be aware of their child’s activities and keep an eye on what they watch to make sure they stay out of harm’s way. Peer pressure from their friends or social circle can be another reason. It is important to keep an eye on your child’s friend circle. If your child’s friends are smoking, it’s highly likely that they will offer cigarettes to your child and it is very difficult to refuse at this age, especially when smoking is being branded as something cool or fashionable. Parents must talk to their children and find teachable moments during discussions to educate them about the harmful effects of such habits. Sometimes children and teenagers try such things out of curiosity or pure boredom or to rebel in order to show their independence. The only thing you can do to stop it is by providing them with an interactive environment and by bonding with them. Don’t make them feel like they are alone or unloved. Being a parent is a huge responsibility. If you want to keep them safe and healthy, you have to be their role model. You are your child’s first teacher and you are the first influence on your child. Your child will follow you and you have to lead by example. Lastly, if you find out that your child has started smoking, stay calm. Getting angry and shouting will not help anyone. Sit them down and talk to them. Educate them about the dangers. Listen to them and try to understand the motivation behind their actions. Make them understand the side effects and harms of smoking, get them all the help they need, and then make a plan to help them quit.