Children and Tobacco: The Facts
Facts on Nicotine and Nicotine Addiction in Children
Tobacco products contain nicotine, an addictive
drug. In order to prevent the
deadly effects of nicotine addiction, early intervention and prevention is
needed. Prolonged exposure to chemicals such as those in cigarettes can lead
to forms of cancer such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.
"What is most significant about teens and smoking, however, is that, from
all indications, smoking is an addiction that is typically initiated during the
teenage years or not at all. For the great majority of smokers, this addiction
begins before they are old enough to purchase tobacco lawfully . . . If youth
access can be controlled effectively, and the decision whether to smoke can be
delayed until adulthood, then, over time, smoking will be greatly reduced as a
major addiction in our society."
-- "No Sale: Youth, Tobacco and Responsible Retailing," Working Group of State
Attorneys General, December 1994.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the World
Health Organization, the Institute of Medicine, the American Medical
Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all agree that tobacco
products are addictive. Numerous studies have found tobacco products to be as
addictive as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.1
- A study done by HHS found that when asked, 5 percent of high school
smokers thought they wouldn't be smoking 5 years later; yet, 7 to 9 years
later, almost 75 percent of them were still smoking. ("Trends in Tobacco Use
Among Youth," CDC, March 1994)
- Each year, nearly 20 million people try to quit smoking, but only 3
percent have long-term success. 70 percent of current smokers report themselves
as being "addicted." 84 percent of normal to heavy smokers aged 12 to 17
reported that they "needed" or were "dependent" on cigarettes.2
- A 1992 survey found that close to two-thirds of adolescents who smoke
want to quit, and 70 percent reported that they would not start smoking again
if given another chance. ("Teenage Attitudes and Bahavior Concerning Tobacco,"
Gallup International Institute, 1992.)
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1994;
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Health Consequences of
Smoking: Nicotine Addiction: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1988;
Institute of Medicine, Growing Up Tobacco Free, 1994; Journal of the
American Medical Association, July 19, 1995.
2. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A
the Surgeon General, 1994.
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