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Teenage smoking is often thought of as kind of innocent experiment, but a drag on a friend's cigarette may be the beginning of something that will be hard to shake.
A study of adolescent smokers in the journalPediatrics tracks the course of addiction to nicotine among a group of sixth-graders. After following 1,246 middle-school children for four years, researchers say a pattern emerged of occasional smoking that led to an addiction to tobacco: A cigarette a month will do it.
"When people are just wanting a cigarette, every now and then, they think they just enjoy smoking," says study coauthor Dr. Joseph DiFranza of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. "As time passes, then they start to notice they will crave a cigarette. So even when they are with someone who is not smoking, something will pop into their mind that will tell them it is time for a cigarette."
He adds, "When they get to the point of needing a cigarette, that means they have an urgent need to smoke and they have to smoke to get it out of their heads."
More Than Just A Taste
A third of the young people in the study had inhaled from a cigarette. Nearly two-thirds of those who'd tried cigarettes said they smoked at least once a month, and half said they experienced symptoms of dependence.
That's how 19-year-old Julia DiGeronimo's habit started ...
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