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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Tobacco - Role Modeling

Prevent tobacco use through role modeling. More and more, tobacco use is being affected by social norms and what is seen as acceptable or normal behaviour.1

When children and youth see tobacco being used anywhere and by those that they look up to (i.e. parents, siblings, friends, coaches, athletes, celebrities etc.), they are more likely to view tobacco as safe and/or normal.

Did you know?

  • Tobacco use by a family member or best friend increases the chance of tobacco use by 90%.2 4
  • Youth and young adults go through various stages and their beliefs on tobacco and tobacco use may change as they go through these stages.2
  • Addiction to nicotine occurs faster in youth than adults.2
  • Seeing smoking in movies makes tobacco use more acceptable to youth and seem “normal”.4
  • Tobacco companies target youth by making tobacco use look cool and by making products targeted to youth, like flavoured dip/chew, in order to recruit new tobacco users.3

  • An individual is more likely to engage in harmful behaviour if it is seen as typical or “normal”.4
  • Using tobacco may lead to other risky behaviour such as alcohol and other drugs.5
  • It is important for youth to receive the same tobacco-free messages in their wider community as they experience at school.2
  • What you do has more impact than what you say.2 By using tobacco in front of youth while engaging in fun activities may cause youth to associate tobacco with fun.
  • Restrictions on smoking in outdoor public places can have protective effect on smoking uptake among youth and young adults.6

What Can You Do?

We need to set good examples; this will send a strong, consistent message to young people that a healthy life is one that is free from tobacco use.

Contact Us

For more information. please contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit's Tobacco Control Team.

Date of creation: March 21, 2013
Last modified on: September 3, 2014


1Kennedy, R. (2010). Evaluation of the City of Woodstock’s Outdoor Smoking By-law: A Longitudinal Study of Smokers and Non-Smokers. Waterloo, ON.
2Health Canada. (2008). Help Your Child Stay Smoke-free: A guide to protecting your child against tobacco use. Health Canada: Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from
3Lung Association. (2012). Smoking & Tobacco: Teens & Smoking. Retrieved from
4Linkenbach, J. The Main Frame: Strategies for Generating Social Norms News. Montana, US: Montana State University, 2002.
5Program Training and Consultation Centre. (2011). Play, Live, Be … Tobacco-Free: A Guide for Developing Tobacco-Free Sport and Recreation Policies and By-laws. Retrieved from,-Live,-Be-Tobacco-Free.pdf
6Smoke-Free Ontario Scientific Advisory Committee. (2010). Evidence to Guide Action: Comprehensive Tobacco Control in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. Retrieved from