Early Course of Nicotine Dependence in Adolescent Smokers

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American Academy of Pediatrics

While there was already evidence of a correlation between the onset of nicotine dependence symptoms and long-term tobacco exposure, this study focuses on the development of symptoms after a youth begins smoking.

Report researchers collected data from 1,246 sixth-graders between 2002 and 2006. All participants were observed for symptoms on the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist (HONC).

The study found that of 370 sixth-graders who had tried cigarettes, 62 percent smoked at least once a month, 53 percent developed symptoms of dependency, and 40 percent gradually became daily smokers.

Individuals who began smoking in adolescence were more likely to become addicted and to progress to daily smoking and then to heavy smoking as adults.

Adolescent tobacco use is motivated by sensory and social rewards, according to the report. The traditional theoretical model on nicotine dependence says that smokers develop dependence as they seek the pleasure they receive when smoking in intervals.

While youth do not consider these desires to smoke as leading to addiction, this study is significant, because it shows that frequent smoking among youth puts them at risk for dependence.

Free, 9 pages. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org.