Apparently, the lull in the market for anti-drug hysteria has created a new product. Or rather, revived an old one:
Dire warning to all adolescents: You can get “hooked from the first cigarette.”
That is the headline in the December issue of The Journal of Family Practice. In the report that follows, Dr. Joseph R. DiFranza, a family health and community medicine specialist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, states that “very soon after that first cigarette, adolescents can experience a loss of autonomy over tobacco.”
Dr. DiFranza, who studies tobacco dependence, described a typical teenage smoker — a 14-year-old girl who smokes only occasionally, about three cigarettes a week. She admitted to having failed at several efforts to quit. Each time she tried, cravings and feelings of irritability drove her back to smoking.
“We have long assumed that kids got addicted because they were smoking 5 or 10 cigarettes a day,” Dr. DiFranza said in an interview. “Now we know that they risk addiction after trying a cigarette just once.”
I'm sure I'm not the only person who read that and thought of this: For the record, I loved smoking with a passion seldom found in one so young. But the hard part of quitting smoking is not the nicotine withdrawal, which passes very quickly; it's the association of smoking with everything you love to do. And kids who say that they're suffering from addiction after one drag are not addicted; they're trying to assume the mantle of addiction out of the mistaken belief that it will make them look cooler. These are the same kids who used to say they were avid smokers, and then sit there dumbly holding a match to the end of their unlit cigarette, because they didn't know they had to inhale to get it to light. One expects this sort of thing out of fourteen year olds. One does not expect to see adults taking it seriously.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.