What are some ways to stop a 20 year old boy from smoking? We know that smoking is bad and cause all sort of cancers (such as lung / heart / throat cancer), are there ways to stop or discourage the boy from smoking?

My colleague's son saw his grandfather smoking and wanted to follow in his footstep, even though my colleague and her spouse do not smoke. My colleague even scolded her father for smoking in front of her grandson.

Are there any solutions to this problem?

  • @Chris, Thanks for the note, actually a typo mistake, it is 20, not 10.
    – Jack
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 8:39
  • 1
    Given the relative influence parents have on a 20 something man, the best way would be to have him meet a gorgeous, kind, funny romantic partner that despise smoking. :) Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 17:33
  • Is there any difference really between like smoking and playing video games in moderation and of the appropriate age? They're both legal. Idk. in my religion (Catholicism), there's nothing wrong really with smoking in moderation and of the appropriate age. Same with like drinking alcohol.
    – BCLC
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 9:39
  • She can stop him from smoking in her home. Smoking outside her home, if he lives inside, getting his clothes in the garden for airing is something she can do, and if it starts raining, bad luck. 20 year olds don't believe in getting any illness. But something like "kissing a smoker is like licking a used ashtray" might help. Tell him that no girl will ever want him.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 14:56

5 Answers 5


The younger the child is, the more impact you'll be able to have. A 10-year-old could be more heavily influenced by his parents, while a 20-year-old may already consider himself an adult capable of making his own decisions.

It's important that he understands the dangers of his behavior - this discussion needs to happen, and it might have the most impact if his grandfather (the perceived source of his desire) plays a large role in this discussion.

The second page of this article provides some good prevention tips such as:

  • Discuss it in a way that doesn't make kids fear punishment or judgment.
  • Ask what kids find appealing — or unappealing — about smoking. Be a patient listener.
  • Encourage kids to get involved in activities that prohibit smoking, such as sports.
  • Explain how much smoking governs the daily life of kids who start doing it. How do they afford the cigarettes? How do they have money to pay for other things they want? How does it affect their friendships?
  • Establish firm rules that exclude smoking and chewing tobacco from your house and explain why: Smokers smell bad, look bad, and feel bad, and it's bad for everyone's health.

I've specifically highlighted the last one, as it's something that can apply to any age, and at least keeps the parents house a smoke free environment, even if he decides to continue smoking.

  • ** NOTE** This answer was written when the question was originally referring to a 10-year-old instead of 20-year-old - not really sure what to do with the answer now that the question has changed...
    – Krease
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 8:52
  • if the answer no longer applies, I'd suggest either editing it to address the updated question, or deleting it if you feel it cannot be salvaged.
    – user420
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 13:08
  • 1
    @Beofett - I've just done this while trying to keep most of the original content.
    – Krease
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 16:12

At 20, its going to be difficult. He's got the independence and rights of adult, although few 20 year olds have the wisdom to use that responsibly (I know I didn't!).

Realistically, you can't expect to convince a 20 year old to stop doing something they've decided to do. I think the best you can work towards is making sure he knows all of the downsides.

You've already mentioned the health aspect, and that's certainly huge, but in my experience, most 20 year olds operate under the assumption that they are effectively immortal.

Some other effects of smoking that he may not have fully considered, and may strike a little bit closer to what he considers near and dear, are financial and social problems.

Point out just how much money he'll spend on cigarettes over the course of a year. Many smokers find themselves smoking a pack a day, or more, and this adds up to some staggering amounts invested over time. If your colleague's father smokes a lot, you could find out how much he spends a year, and multiply that by however many years he's been smoking.

The other aspect to point out is social. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, because peer pressure is the biggest reason most people start smoking, so it may be that everyone he hangs out with smokes. However, I've never met a smoker who objected to my not smoking, even when I was trying to quit. More importantly, though, smoking is a big turn-off for many people, and if he finds out that potential romantic interests may immediately blow him off because they don't want to "kiss an ashtray", it may help put things in perspective. Mouthwash only helps so much; there are quite a few non-smokers out there who simply have no interest in long-term relationships with someone who has to gargle before makeout sessions in order to not smell/taste offensive.


When a person is 20 years old, in most places, they are considered an adult and can make their own decisions. Parenting adults is a challenge.

  1. Check local public health resources. In the US, there are state funded resources, such as http://www.tobaccofreeca.org/ and http://www.nobutts.org/ or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS

  2. Encourage the person to talk to their doctor. Doctors have all sorts of resources, and patients whose doctors recommended quitting are more likely to quit.

  3. Set boundaries. Your colleague can have rules such as no smoking or second or third hand smoke in their house, cars.

  4. Be aware and willing to help as her son goes through the stages of change: precontemplative, contemplative, preparation, action, and maintenance.


Really, there's nothing your colleague can do. If her son wants to smoke, he'll smoke.

  • As a former 20-year-old smoker whose mother tried to convince her not to smoke, I can vouch for this answer. There wasn't a thing she could have done that I didn't just roll my eyes at.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 21:57
  • If a person has chosen to continue smoking, then there may be little another person can do about it. It may be helpful for your colleague to be aware of the stages of change (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheoretical_model) that a person goes through. Then your colleague can figure out what kind of intervention, if any, could be most helpful.
    – 5un5
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 17:21

there is a lot you she can do. a 20 y/o can be tough but they are neither an adult nor a teen based on newer WHO guidelines.

  1. talk to them in private, discuss the danger of smoking and try to convince them not to smoke.
  2. try to find out the problem that leads to smoking, try to fix it, or understand it.
  3. don't treat them like kids, don't ban them from their phones, laptop, etc. TRY TO TALK TO THEM LIKE ADULTS, try to tell them that smoking is bad for an adult too. of course, if you smoke occasionally as a parent, you can't influence your child not to do that.

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