“But smoking is bad for you, Mommy…” CAMH storybook tackles kids’ smoking fears

That’s why experts at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have developed a new children’s storybook called Smoking and Quitting: Clean Air for All that will be distributed to every elementary school and public library across Canada during National Non-Smoking Week, January 16 – 22, 2011.

“Why do my parents smoke when they know it’s bad for them?” “Will I get sick from the smoke?” “Why can’t people just quit?” These are some of the questions that kids need to talk about, but have not really been dealt with in the children’s books out there today. Marshalling its expertise in addictions, children’s mental health and education, CAMH has created a unique children’s storybook that fills an important gap.

“Kids grow up hearing about the dangers of smoking, including some messages that are really aimed at adults,” said Dr. Irfan Mian, Psychiatrist in CAMH’s Child, Youth and Family Program. “This can cause confusion and concern for kids, especially if parents, caregivers, other family members and people they admire smoke. It’s important to talk to kids about the realities concerning smoking and encourage them to discuss their feelings. Discussing the facts is one of the most important things you can do for them.”

Aimed at children 5-10 years old,Smoking and Quitting: Clean Air for All tells the story of Daniel and his neighbour Trev’s desire to live in a smoke-free apartment building. Smoking was becoming a big problem—firefighters put out a fire in the laundry room that someone had started with a lighter; Daniel’s mom was smoking when she walked the dog, and Marmalade the cat got sick from second-hand smoke. The boys were even learning about how dangerous smoking was at school. The story of Daniel and Trev’s adventures trying to make their building smoke free takes off from there, in a beautifully illustrated storybook that really captures kids’ interest.

“Anti-smoking messages to children in schools and via media outlets are important, but we know that kids worry when they see people they care about doing something unhealthy like smoking, and particularly about the effect that second-hand smoke can have on their own health,” added Dr. Peter Selby, Clinical Director of CAMH’s Addictions Program. “This book is intended to address those concerns, as well as to give children some strategies for protecting themselves from second-hand smoke.”

Produced in both English and French with support from Health Canada, Smoking and Quitting: Clean Air for All has received a recommendation from Curriculum Services Canada to be part of the supplemental curriculum. Integrating the book into elementary school curricula through a classroom or library reading circle, followed by facilitated discussion with students, is one use, but this book is also meant for family members to read and discuss with their children, for a child to read on her or his own, and even for adults or older children to read independently.

The book will also be available as a PDF on our website at http://knowledgex.camh.net/educators/elementary

For more information and to receive a copy of the book for media purposes, contact: Michael Torres, CAMH Media Relations, 416-595-6015; or by email at [email protected]

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.  CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit www.camh.net.