Teens & Smoking: Our Exclusive Chat with Health & Human Services Secy. Kathleen Sebelius

We posed your questions to the Health & Human Services Secretary live on iVillage.com in connection with the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.

Whenever my daughters and I end up walking behind people who are smoking, I always do two things.  I try to quickly walk past them so we don't have to ingest even the smallest amount of dangerous second-hand smoke and then I have the same conversation.  Me:  "Smoking is so bad for you."  My girls:  "Why do people smoke?"  Me:  "Because they started and now they can't stop.  I feel bad for them.  They never should have started in the first place."

Do my kids get it?  Hard to say after all they're only five and a half and four but I want to continue having these conversations hoping they'll grow up seeing smoking for what it is and not as something glamorous the cool kids do when they get older.

Think about these stats -- every day in the U.S., approximately 3,450 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 smoke their first cigarette -- and about 850 of them start smoking every day.  More than 80% of adult smokers picked up the smoking habit before the age of 18 and half of lifetime smokers will die prematurely due to their tobacco use.

What more of a message do we need to try and keep our kids from starting to smoke in the first place?

Watch our exclusive chat with Secretary Sebelius about smoking here:


In honor of the American Cancer Society's 36th Annual Great American Smokeout, iVillage had an exclusive interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  We posed your questions to the Secretary about how to convince our teens not to smoke and help moms and dads quit and learned so many things, including how the Secretary herself is a former smoker.  She said she smoked during high school and college but then gave up smoking at her husband's urging.

I told my daughters about why I went to Washington.  Hope you'll use this interview to have a conversation with yours too.

Kelly Wallace is iVillage's Chief Correspondent and conducted the interview with Secretary Sebelius.  Follow Kelly on Twitter (@kellywallacetv).

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