ask an expert


Dear Dr. Sue: I know how harmful smoking is and I worry all of the time about my mom. She smokes cigarettes and has smoked for a really long time. I’m really scared that she will get sick, or even worse, die from smoking. What should I do to help my mom?
~ Always Worrying

Dear Always Worrying: Having a parent who smokes is hard on you, but there are some things you can do. While you can’t get your mom to quit – only she can do that – you can support your mom. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Ask your mom to quit and give her some good reasons. You can say, “I love to be with you and I want you to be healthy!" or “I like playing with you and want to do sports together.”
  • If your mom is willing to quit, ask her what date she’d like to quit, or pick the date together. Let her know that you are there to support her!
  • Stay active with your mom. Ask her to go for a walk with you or a bike ride. It’s important to stay busy.
  • Encourage your mom and cheer her on. But, remember, quitting is difficult. If she starts to smoke, let her know she can quit again and pick a new date.
  • Visit the No Smoking Room together and print a door hanger to place in your home as a reminder. Or, send her an e-card to let her know you love her.
  • Let your mom know that you will never smoke. You will inspire her!


Meet Dr. Hank and Dr. Sue

Dr. HankHenry (Hank) Bernstein, DO is a Professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School. With more than 25 years of experience as a primary care pediatrician in a variety of settings, Dr. Bernstein's goal has always been to promote the health of children, their families, and the communities where they live.

Dr. Bernstein enjoys educating the public through writing for health information websites, regular participation in media interviews on a variety of pediatric health care issues, and by presenting educational content in a dynamic, interactive manner using state-of-the-art technology. He also dedicates significant time and effort to the development and study of new and innovative online tools intended to improve the overall health of patients.

Dr. SueSusanne Tanski, MD is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School and a practicing pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She is also a project director in the American Academy of Pediatrics Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence, a national center of excellence funded by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute dedicated to protecting children from tobacco. Working within the Cancer Risk Behaviors Group at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth, her research focuses on visual media influences on adolescent smoking and drinking, and communication between pediatric clinicians and parents regarding secondhand smoke exposure of children. She has expertise and interest in parent education and smoking cessation.