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One Thing Leads To Another

A young teenager might look at a cigarette being offered to her for the first time as an experiment and think: “Well, one can’t hurt.†But the reality is, that first smoke could be the first of many more to come.

According to a new study funded by the Canadian Cancer Society, lighting up just one or two cigarettes and inhaling might be enough to get some adolescents addicted to nicotine. “This is a huge warning to kids and parents about the real danger of putting that first cigarette into your mouth,†says Dr. Jennifer O'Loughlin, a researcher with the society.

The study is important because it goes against old beliefs stating that kids need two or three years of daily smoking to become reliant on the dreaded nicotine. And that is giving those who fight to get teens to butt out, more information in their ongoing battle.

“This research demonstrates why the stop-smoking message doesn't always get through to teens who have started smoking. Their physical addiction can be a stronger influence than peer pressure. This will be a great help in developing more effective smoking cessation programs for kids,†said Cheryl Moyer, Director of Cancer Control Programs for the Canadian Cancer Society.

The study of over 1,200 Montreal high school students found that teens who smoked just once or twice talked about symptoms of nicotine dependence. And as much as one-third reported problems such as “difficulty not smoking when friends smoke†and “feeling a real need to smoke.â€

September 15, 2003