by Robert Cherry, Prevention Services Manager, Community Advocates
What makes a “good dad?” Maybe the simplest answer is how he cares for his children.
As Fathers’ Day is upon us, it’s timely to reflect upon how a father may impact his children in one critical way: Does he smoke and, if so, what is he doing to instruct the children on the dangers of picking up such an addiction?
When they smoke, dads impact their children in several ways:
First, the second hand smoke can affect the children and other members of the family and add to their health problems. Studies show that the primary source of second hand smoke for kids is the home. Thus, if dad can’t kick the habit, he should keep the home and car totally smoke-free, meaning he should only smoke out-of-doors.
Secondly, dad is setting a bad example. If he must smoke, a good dad, however, will use his own experience to educate his children about addiction and how hard it is to quit smoking. He’ll emphasize the “immediate” health effects and what it might do to a child’s physical appearance.
Thirdly, if he smokes, a dad may soon become disabled or die pre-maturely putting a terrible strain on the family, imperiling a child’s hope of getting to college or fulfilling other dreams.
And finally, consider the example a dad could make on his children by quitting smoking himself. And what’s a better time to start than now?
Currently, one in five men smoke in the United States, with surveys showing 21.5% nationally of men as smokers; Wisconsin’s rate is 20.7%, which ranks it 33rd among the 50 states in the lowest rates. Mississippi (26.5%) and Kentucky (26.3%) are the worst two states while Utah (10.6%) is number one.
What the statistics show is that 441,300 men in Wisconsin smoke and on average 4,400 men die every year due to smoking, affecting 410 kids in their families annually, creating annual costs in SSSI payments to those kids each year of $41.9 million. In addition, total state costs to treat male smokers overall are $1.23 billion.
Yes, dad your smoking habit not only affects your family and children directly, but it also affects your fellow citizens who will be covering the cost of your smoking through higher taxes and medical costs.
If you’re a smoker this year, dad, why not make it the best Fathers’ Day ever for your children, family and the community by beginning the effort to stop smoking? And if you’re a nonsmoking dad, keep a vigilant eye on your kids and reinforce the message not to smoke.