American Lung Association N-O-T Program Helps Parents and Educators Combat Teen Smoking

Novel Program Helps Kids Give Up Cigarettes by Providing Support Rather Than Punishment

(March 13, 2009)

Nicotine addiction is powerful and can overcome even the best of kids. The American Lung Association's Not On Tobacco Program (N-O-T) is helping teens across the country break free from the deadly grip cigarettes has on more than 2.5 million American kids.

"Part of what makes the N-O-T program so unique and ultimately effective is that it is designed to help kids quit, not punish them for smoking," said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO.

Developed in partnership with leading researchers at the West Virginia University Prevention Research Center, the N-O-T Program provides a supportive, evidence based approach to helping kids quit smoking. With more than 150,000 graduates, N-O-T is the most successful and widely-used teen smoking cessation program in the country.

N-O-T helps kids understand why they smoke and helps them develop the skills, confidence and support they need to quit. Kids learn the techniques they need to tackle tough problems like nicotine withdrawal, getting through urges and cravings and responding to peer pressure. N-O-T also deals with issues that are important to teens, such as how to manage their weight after quitting, how to deal with stress in healthy ways and how to communicate effectively.

Learning that a child is smoking can be difficult news for parents to cope with. The Lung Association advises parents to become their child's leading advocate and first line of support in their process to quit smoking. 

"It's critical to not let tempers get in the way of offering support when talking about a child's decision to smoke," advises Connor. "A parent's support may well be what enables a child to give up a deadly habit and will go a long way towards opening critical lines of communication."

Quitting smoking is not easy. Many people, including kids, experience significant nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which is why the support of a proven, evidence-based, program like N-O-T is essential.

The American Lung Association suggests that parents try to understand why their child is smoking. Good questions to ask include: Are their friends also smoking? Do they think that cigarettes will help them lose weight? Do they feel peer pressure to smoke?

Parents must also keep in mind that their child is probably not the only one in their peer group experimenting with cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 3,600 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 years smoke their first cigarette each day.

"The sad truth is that half of all smokers will eventually die of their addiction," said Conner. "Although it can be hard to remain supportive, helping your son or daughter quit and encouraging their participation in the N-O-T program may be one of the best things you ever do for your child."

It's also important for parents to be a strong role model for their kids. Teens, especially emulate their parent's behavior. The Lung Association finds that parents who smoke are much more likely to have children who smoke.

Fortunately, help is available for parents who smoke and want to quit. The American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking Program has been helping adults successfully quit smoking for more than 25 years. Parents and teens should not be afraid to begin a quitting program together and to lean on each other for support throughout the process.

Although parents may want their teen to stop smoking overnight, addictions are hard to break. It is estimated that 48% of young smokers want to quit but haven't yet been able to do so. It can take sometimes several attempts before kids and adults are able to quit smoking for good.

Trained facilitators are leading N-O-T programs in schools across the country. To find out how to get involved with the N-O-T Program in your community, visit:

About the American Lung Association: Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit