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My Son Started

Well, last night my 17 year old son came home from going out with some friends and admitted to me that he had started smoking. I had kind of expected that he had, but had never actually caught him or asked him about it. I'm glad that he came clean.

I asked him how long had he been smoking, and he said about 4 months. He said he was up to about 1/2 ppd. I asked him if he thought that he was addicted, and he said that he was pretty sure that he was - said that he gets pretty serious cravings if he can't smoke for a few hours.

Even though I am a smoker, I'll have to admit that I have mixed feelings. Of course there are health risks, but on the other hand he is 17 and I think old enough to make the decision. Since I know what it is like to be a teen smoker (I started at 15), I told him that it was his decision whether or not to continue to smoke; I wasn't going to badger him about it. He said that he enjoys it, and wants to keep smoking. We agreed that he'd have to buy his own (he has a job). We then went out back and shared our first cigarette together - turns our he's smoking the same brand as me - Marlboro Reds. I could tell from the way he handled the cigarette that he had been doing this for some time.

I hope I handled this correctly - it's a tough thing to hear from your kid. But as I said, I know how he feels. If he is addicted, then he'll smoke whether I want him to or not. I was that way. But I am glad he told me.


That's awesome. Unfortunately for me, my mother quit as I started. So of course I got the same old bs about cancer and how addictive and hard it is to quit. I'm glad my mom quit for her health, but I wish she would acknowledge I am 19 and allowed, just as she was, to smoke.

He got the Lecture

OP here - To be sure, he got the standard lecture about the health risks and how hard it is to quit (though he can see how hard it is from watching me through the years try and fail to quit). But ultimately, he is old enough to make the decision for himself.

Good for you and your son

You didn't push him into it. He made his own decision like you and now likes it just the way you do. Enjoy your smoking together and enjoy watching him as he develops his enjoyment for them further. I think it great when a father and son can enjoy their smoke time together.

You did handle this

You did handle this correctly and I commend you on it. And I also commend your son for coming forth and revealing his smoking habit to you. The two of you handled this potentially delicate issue in a rational and mature manor.


You handled this perfectly.I've been in the identical situation as a smoking parent because my daughter was also 17 when she started but stayed in the closet for just over two years before coming out.During that time I turned a blind eye to it.I was also 15 when I started,so I've been there.Your son is definitely old enough to decide for himself and he has a job to pay for it.I think it's great that it only took him four months to admit he was smoking and be open about it.The fact is,parents who smoke are a lot more likely to have kids who smoke,so go ahead and let him smoke if that's what he wants to do.Your first cigarette together is one you'll always remember.Once again,I want to congratulate the both of you for handling this in a responsible manner.


Thanks for the supportive replies. He's a good kid, and as I told him, smoking does not make you a bad person. He told me yesterday that part of his motivation to come clean with me was that he was having a tough time not smoking at home. As I said, he is smoking 1/2 ppd, but all of that was at work, but when he came home, he was not able to smoke. He said it become more and more difficult to watch me light up, knowing that he couldn't. I understand - not being able to satisfy your cravings is pure hell. I do suspect that now that he can smoke around me, he'll be greatly increasing the number of cigarettes he smokes each day. That's fine, as long as he can afford it. Yesterday, he smoked a full pack without really forcing anything, so it's clear his body needs more nicotine that he was getting before he came clean. It's still kind of a shock watching him draw on a cigarette and seeing the relief and pleasure that it brings to him. I'll just have to keep reminding myself for a while that my son is a smoker.

children smoking

You should tell the boy he's made an important step into manhood. Good he's on a good strong brand he can buy anywhere in the world, so he's part of an international fellowship too

I Was Surprised

I was a little surprised when we went out to smoke our first cigarette together when he pulled out a pack of Marlboro Reds. I was honestly,in a way, a bit proud of the kid. If you're going to smoke, might as well smoke a good cigarette. It took me a few years to move from lights to full flavor. He told me he moved from lights to Reds about a month after starting because smoking Reds helped him with the cravings later in the night since he could not smoke at homeat the time. But he had no problem with them. Deep drags, held the smoke in for a long time, even double pumped a couple of times on one of them. It looked like he had been smoking for a lot longer than 4 months, but he really didn't have any reason to lie about how long he had been smoking. I guess his lungs were just made for smoking.

You did the right thing

Having a son start smoking and your reaction to it would have been completely unremarkable as recently as 20 years ago. Parents definitely differed in their reaction to learning a kid smokes, but the tales of severe punishments, agonizing self-criticism, etc are more recent phenomena in the united states.

I made this comment already on another post, but when my now-19 year old son started smoking, I was basically unbothered because I myself am very pro-smoking. I like it when other people smoke, and in recent years that includes my son.

You can now look forward to lots of relaxing smoking time with your son. It even surprised me just how pleasant that is!

Four months?

I don't want to burst your bubble, but I'd say he's got more than a four month habit from what you said. Myself, I started at 13 on light cigarettes. It was years before I moved up to Marlboro Reds and even then I had to work at it. While I was smoking daily from the beginning, I could manage not smoking for hours on end. From what I've read it takes two years to develop a true physical nicotine addiction. We may feel we need to smoke much earlier because we want to, but a true addiction takes time. And from what you wrote, he has a true addiction if he's smoking Marlboro Reds, has no problem with double drags, holds the smoke in for a long time, and can smoke a pack a day. These are not traits of a new smoker. These are traits of an addicted, experienced smoker. Ask him again and now that he's more comfortable with his status as a smoker around you, I bet he'll tell you he's been smoking for a couple years already.

Also, not a surprise he smokes your brand. I'm sure he stole your cigarettes when he started because they were easy to take. If he only had Reds, well he's used to them and he won't be able to smoke lights.

Nothing Would Change

While I'm not sure I had a bubble to burst, whether he's been smoking 4 months or 4 years, at this point, really is not that important. Maybe I misunderstood and he said he'd been smoking 1/2 ppd for 4 months rather than been smoking for 4 months. Right now, it just doesn't matter. Is he addicted? Sure acts like it. Does he want to continue smoking? Yeah. So, that's where we are.

Did he steal my cigarettes when he started? Of course. I'm not an idiot - I stole my parent's cigarettes when I started, and I imagine the vast majority of kids of smokers who take up the habit, steal from their parents.

And you are right, just like anyone who has moved from lights to Reds knows, going back is pretty much impossible. The draw is too hard, and there's just not enough nicotine to satisfy.

Winston Smoker Man's picture

I never stole a cigarette in

I never stole a cigarette in my life. My first cigarette was from a pack I bought myself, and I was 13 (almost 14). But then, both my parents were non-smokers. And those were different times (1978). I realize this is almost a year later, but I also commend you on how rationally you handled the whole matter. He's a smoker, and nothing you could do will change that. And I agree, he's old enough. If he's old enough to be trusted with driving a car, then certainly he's old enough to make his own decision about smoking. I also commend your son for telling you, at 17 it was about time, regardless of how long he'd been smoking.

By the way, my parents handled it in what was, I think, an unusual way (though, unlike you, they were both nonsmokers). My mother suspected that I was smoking. During the 15 months while I was "on-again, off-again" experimenting, she would at times demand to smell my breath. But since I was smoking only menthols then, and the menthol somewhat masked the tobacco breath, she was never entirely sure. I don't know if she confided her suspicions to my father, he never asked or said anything about it. The "breath tests" ended, if I remember right, after I started high school (my high school was grades 10-12, so I was just turning 15). That just happened to coincide with my first after school job, right after my 15th birthday, and when I began smoking regularly, every day and about 10-15 cigarettes per day. So, either my mother simply knew I was smoking and decided there was nothing she could really do about it, or she must have thought I was old enough to decide for myself, or both. For roughly two years, it seemed like there was a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. My parents weren't asking about it, and I never smoked in their presence. It wasn't until I was 17 that I openly admitted to my mother that I smoked. She didn't ask for how long; actually, she took it fairly well -- this from a woman who had a volatile temper and would easily start yelling over unimportant matters (though her outbursts ended quickly). Clearly she didn't like it, but her relative lack of reaction means she must have known, and that I wasn't telling her anything she didn't already know. More importantly, she didn't tell me to stop, or make any threats of punishment, though I was not to smoke in the house. And my father still said nothing! I guess he deferred to her judgment, as he did with just about everything else. By the time I was 18, my mother was bringing home to me the free samples of cigarettes that were sometimes given at the supermarket, and I was allowed to smoke in my room. Most of the year I was away at university, so I guess my parents must have felt that they could tolerate it for the few months of summer.

You're right

Yeah, that was my comment above about Four Months. You know what, you are absolutely correct. At this point it doesn't matter, does it? Sounds like he's not just smoking, but already an addicted smoker...and at the end of the day, what does it matter? I started at 13 and no one could have convinced me to stop at that age even if they tried. By the time I was your son's age I was a full time smoker too, and needed to smoke just like any smoker does. You accepting his decision will make it much easier for him since he doesn't have to hide it, and after all, it's his decision and he'll have to own it, just like we all do. Now, one question, do you consider he'll regret smoking at some point and that he may be upset with you for giving in so easy and, while not encouraging, but fully allowing him to develop a deep rooted smoking habit that'll be very difficult for him to quit later in life? I wonder about this...but, speaking for myself, I don't regret having started smoking when I was 13 and no one could have stopped me. I will also recoginize that I'm different than most smokers...I enjoy smoking on all levels and to this day have no desire to quit. But I do understand that many smokers end up wishing they'd never started, it's just not my case. At the end of the day you handled it the way most smoking parents would. You can't deny them knowing you started at their age...that's just not realisitic. Also, they'll steal your smokes and continue anyway. But, maybe making it harder for them to get would avoid them developing a strong addiction or habit. I don't know...

OP Family Update

My 22 year old son, who is a Marine, got home last night for a couple of weeks. He joined up right after high school. He starting use smokless tobacco when he was 14, and continued to use it until he went to Afghanistan. He went there a Copenhagen user and came home a ppd Marlboro Reds smoker. He said more guys around him smoked than dipped, and since he was already addicted to nicotine, it was easy to pick up a cigarette habit. Said smoking help pass the time better than dipping.

So, my wife (who smokes also - Marb Lights) and I, and our 3 sons (I also have a 16 year old) had a great evening out back with a few beers and a lot of cigarettes. My Marine son did not seem surprised at all to see my 17 year old smoking. I know they communicate a lot, so my younger son probably told his older brother that he was going to tell me that he was a smoker.

I felt a little bad for my youngest son. No beers, no cigarettes. I won't let him drink at home (though I am sure he has with friends), and though I know he has experimented with cigarettes, I don't have any hard evidence that he is consistently smoking. But I know that he worships the ground that his older brothers walk on, and I suspect that one day, he'll end up a smoker. If he is smoking, it had to be hard as hell to sit there and watch everyone else in the family enjoying their cigarettes. A little part of me wished that he would have gotten it over with and just asked for a cigarette.

It's great to have everyone home for a short while. I figure over the next couple of weeks, we'll go through multiple cases of beer and about 7 cartons of smokes between the 4 of us. Now, that is real pleasure.


I am a British squaddieboy and didn't smoke in school or college>
When I joined up most of my regiment smoked and guess it was a natural progression to start. Most of my buddies smoked and regularly offered me them. It was on a noght out that my best mate( Reds smoker) suggested that I should start and that he wuld gladly show me the ropes. One led to another and in the past few months I have now managed to like them and yeah smoke them. My buddies think its kinda cool> so do I > I would have no hesitation in starting my younger brother and encouraging him.
Moral- He probably will be a good smoker if he is in the forces as most of us guys do go away for a long time and ut becomes a bonding sort of thing with other smokers.

Not Sure What I Can Do

That's a tough one. The kid will be 18 in 2 months. Yeah, he'll still be living under my roof and I could forbid him from smoking at the house, but he'd probably just end up taking a lot of "walks" around the neighborhood. He's got a job, buys his own cigarettes. He can smoke at work; I can't stop that. I guess I could toss him out of the house when he turns 18, but what does that accomplish? I really don't know of much a parent can do if they have a kid who is hell-bent on smoking cigarettes. As you said about yourself " one could have stopped me." I was that way also.

Will he regret starting? Who knows. We're all different. I sure won't have any guilt over the situation. It's his decision. He already knew the risks, and I reinforced what he already knew. But we all know, talking to a 17 year old about COPD and cancer goes in one ear and out the other. They're invincible.

Hard to stop. Hell yes. Impossible, certainly not. He's definitely addicted, I'm sure of that. And the addiction will only grow deeper with time. He's seen my wife try to quit for years, to no avail. I've tried a couple of times, but it's easier to have another smoke than endure withdrawl. I have finally come to the conclusion that I will smoke for the rest of my life - no doubt about it. The pleasure is immeasurable. Where will he end up - I don't know.

But regardless, he's my son. I don't think any less of him because he is a smoker


Eh-like you said he be 18 soon enough and legal in most states to freely purchase and use tobacco. If your 16 yr old has the stones to ask for one let him. From what you described about your family I wouldn't be supprised if while all the rest are sitting around in a smoky haze, he's gutting a mouth full of chew anyway!

You're Right

You're pretty smart. The kid, like virtually everyone on his baseball team, does dip. Doesn't gut it, though. That's one of the reasons that I think one day he'll end up a smoker. His older brother dipped and changed over to cigarettes; I bet he will too.

son also started smoking

Like your son, my 17 year old came home one day and told me he smoked. I asked him how long and he said he had started a couple of weeks ago but did not want to hide it from me. I am a single dad, my wife died 5 years ago and have been a smoker since I was 16. I gave him the speech about the health risks, but as a smoker I can't say he really surprised me by starting. He is old enough to decide for himself and buys his own cigarettes.The two of us now smoke together. I also have a 14 year old and suspect he smokes too but is hiding it from me, my cartons just seem to empty a lot faster than before. I asked him if he smoked but he denies it. 14 is too young to make such a decision I think but what can I do about it.

17 year old son also started smoking

My 17 year also son also started smoking recently and I am having a hard time seeing him smoke in front of me. I am 36 and have been smoking since I was 16. My parents gave me a hard time when they found out and I did not want to be like them. My son had the guts to tell me himself. Dad as you yorself smoke you know how good it is, I am a smoker now. I played the cool dad but deep down inside wish he had never started. He can't be addicted yet since he started a couple of weeks ago but he really enjoys smoking.
When we smoke together it really feels strange to see smoke coming out of my son.
Is this a normal feeling?

At First

I had the same feeling as you when my son first told me that he was a smoker. I'd watch him and it looked strange. But, once you realize the pleasure that smoking brings to your kid (especially when they become addicted) you'll get used to it. Give it a few weeks and once you are more accepting of the fact that he smokes, it will start to look more natural.

So Where Are Things?

Well, It has been a few months since your son came forward to confess his smoking addiction, and your middle son in the Marines I think it was came home a smoker, I do hope that by now you have allowed the ice your two oldest broke to open the door to your youngest son and greatly alleviate the pressure for him coming out as a smoker. Although he may be a little young, I would hope that you have ushered him in without judgment. From your previous post I think it would be nieve to think that he has made the decision not to smoke. I truly think that in his case, being the youngest, it is critical that he be accepted opening and that you even support him as a smoker if he chooses with absolutely NO condemnation. From his perspective, seeing that you opening accept his older brothers as smokers, to extend him anything less would really be detrimental to him. Please encourage him and accept him and his decision. Any updates regarding?

Encouraged My Son To Start Smoking

Two years ago I asked my 13 year old son if he was interested in starting to smoke. He was and eagerly accepted a smoke from me. He coughed a little in the beginning but smoked three cigarettes that first day. I was raised in a smoking family and easily picked up smoking at age 12 with no objections from my parents. They bought smokes for me until I was old enough to get them myself. My wife enjoys smoking a lot too so we figured we would introduce our kids to the pleasures of the smoking habit before they sneak around. Our son is 15 and smokes at least a pack a day. Our two younger kids have recently started as well. The approach we took has worked beautifully and we are very proud of our kids as they are considerate smokers and fine young people.

So what was the response of

So what was the response of your younger two sons when you introduced cigarettes to them? Did they succumb to addiction very quickly without fighting it?

Encouraged My Son To Start Smoking

You can feel proud of yourself too, Brian. You are not a bad person but a good one.


Kids Totally Enjoy Smoking

Our kids were all born and raised around smoking. My wife and I, along with our relatives and friends smoke everywhere in the house and cars. So smoking is just the norm for our kids. We see addiction as a natural and enjoyable part of the habit. So our twin boys picked it up naturally with proper guidance and encouragement from us. They loved it from the start and had no reason to worry about the addiction. We don't believe in scaring our kids about smoking as it is just a very happy part of our family life. The twins smoke maybe a pack between the two of them every day. The kids are free to smoke anywhere in the house and in our cars as we feel it should be. They are all great kids to have around and are growing up to be wonderful and kind men some day.

This used to be common.

Parents would ask if their kids would like to start smoking and would teach them how. Sometimes encouraging them to do so.

I Enjoyed It So Much

I loved smoking and it didn't take much to make me happy as a preteen/teen. As long as I had cigarettes,
I was very happy. Before age 11, when I smoked with my parents, I must've enjoyed it too and was addicted at age three. Cigarettes and kids go together, as most of us start as kids.

Did they start together....

Did they start together at the same time? How old were they when they started?

Common in some circles

When driving through the cities in the '50s and '60s, it wasn't unusual to see pre-teens smoking. Not as common in the suburban schools I attended.

In my case, it was "don't ask, don't tell". Mom knew I was smoking a bit when I had the opportunity but never challenged me. It was clear to me that I couldn't smoke in front of her. By nine, I was smoking 7-10 per day and desperately wanted to smoke more in order to join her at the dinner table as she chained 2-3. I started smoking one cig in bed, then two several weeks later. That got her attention and we negotiated my smoking privileges. All the restrictions she imposed faded away within a month. She thoroughly enjoyed smoking with me and I was free to smoke at will which meant anytime anywhere. I just had to be discrete at school so that my playground smoking wouldn't trigger alot of phone calls.

As for encouragement, my mother was given a flat silver cigarette case on her tenth birthday in 1927. Not certain she was smoking before then. She lived with her aunt, uncle, mother, live-in maid, and six cousins in a large house. All those over ten were smokers.

Over the next four years, I started a bunch of kids. Seems like half of them were deeply closeted. Many of the rest got permission when they were caught. They probably had smoking parents.

Common in some circles

No, not uncommon. That woman on the smoking special on PBS 20 years ago started at age five. You mentioned at school. This makes me wonder about why mom and dad made me quit around age eight or nine(1970-71). I wonder if I asked my teacher for one or told one of my friends I smoked. But as I soon found out one year ago(may 2012), my dreams about smoking were withdrawal dreams. I always wondered why cigarettes were calling me in 1973. Since I found that cigarette on the kitchen floor that day when I came home from school, and no one was home, maybe it was put there by my dad. Maybe I asked my mom if I could smoke when I got my dreams and she told dad. Maybe they knew I smoked and turned their eyes to it, or just figured I would wind up smoking again anyway. I was smoking 3-4 a day and 7-8 a day by 8th grade(and that was sneaking them). With that being said, it makes me wonder how many I was smoking when theymade me quit. As far as the tapes went, all I had to do was tell my mom I wanted one and she gave it to me. I also wonder how many times she let me have hits of hers over the years. Maybe everytime she smoked, I did, whether it would be a few puffs or a whole one. I should've played these tapes to her while she was alive. My brothers aren't answering me, and the one who heard this stuff doesn't remember anything. Hey Wardner, if ever you want to hear a three year old pleading for a puff on a cigarette and the whole family talking about smoking afterwards, I have the files of me smoking on my PC.

Never had the nerve to tell my parents for years.

I wish I was that brave when i was 17, I hid it from my mum for 10 yrs and hated having to hide it. Just felt so awkward telling her.
Shed even found cigs in my coat or in my room so many times but always said they were my friends or a girl I was seeing at the time.
When I finally told her she just laughed and said "I'm not bloody stupid, I started at 13 and know all the tricks in the book" whoops!! Haha

franzy0207's picture

Yes, be glad that he has told

Yes, be glad that he has told you he smokes and how long he already smokes. He talked openly with you and did you also said, smoking like him, he will not stop and he is already addicted. Take your son as he is, as you can with a cigarette discuss problems and solve them in a relaxed

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