Smoking Addiction Can Begin With First Cigarette
> 7/11/2007 8:46:04 AM

The very first puff of a cigarette can change your life. This isnot just propaganda from overprotective parents. According to a studyin this month's issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine,addiction can begin much earlier than previously suspected, starting asearly as two days after the first cigarette.

A group of 1246six-graders was followed for four years to find the onset of addiction.For the purposes of this study, addiction was defined as the loss ofautonomy over tobacco and was measured with the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist, of which a previous studysaid, "the psychometric properties were excellent." 10% of the childrenlost full control of their usage within two days, and 25% weredependent within the first month. It is frightening that some youthsare so susceptible to tobacco that they suffer withdrawal symptomsafter the first use, craving the second cigarette and becomingdistracted and fretful until they get it. The author of the study, Dr.Joseph DiFranza from the University of Massachusetts, explains why one cigarette can be an irrevocable slip:

"Laboratoryexperiments confirm that nicotine alters the structure and function ofthe brain within a day of the very first dose."

Aftertobacco dependence was detected, researchers interviewed the childrenand checked the concentration of salivary cotinine. The average wasonly 5.35 ng/mL, way below the threshold between active and passivesmokers. This should serve as a clear warning that addiction canencircle you quickly and surreptitiously. Just because you do not smokeevery day does not mean that you are not dependent. Once your toleranceincreases, more and more nicotine will be needed to stave offwithdrawal.

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