Posts Tagged ‘ teen smoking ’

Young E-Cigarette Users Less Likely to Quit Real Cigarettes

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Young people who start smoking by using e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine but no tobacco tar or smoke, are more likely to eventually smoke real cigarettes–and less likely to quit smoking altogether than those who do not use e-cigarettes, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics.  The New York Times has more on the study, which is getting a divided response from experts:

The study’s lead author, Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has been critical of the devices, said the results suggested that e-cigarettes, whose use is growing rapidly among youth and adults, were leading to less quitting, not more.

“The use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents,” the study concluded. It was published online in JAMA Pediatrics on Thursday.

But other experts said the data did not support that interpretation. . They said that just because e-cigarettes are being used by youths who smoke more and have a harder time quitting does not mean that the devices themselves are the cause of those problems. It is just as possible, they said, that youths who use the devices were heavier smokers to begin with or would have become heavy smokers.

“The data in this study do not allow many of the broad conclusions that it draws,” said Thomas J. Glynn, a researcher at the American Cancer Society.

The study is likely to further stir the debate over what electronic cigarettes mean for the nation’s 45 million smokers, three million of whom are adolescents. Some experts worry that e-cigarettes is a gateway to smoking real cigarettes for young people, though most say the data is too skimpy to settle the issue. Others hope the devices could be a path to quitting.

So far, the overwhelming majority of young people who use e-cigarettes also smoke real cigarettes, a large federal survey published last year found.

Still, while e-cigarette use among youth doubled from 2011 to 2012, cigarette smoking for youth has continued to decline. The smoking rate hit a record low in 2013 of 9.6 percent, down by two-thirds from its peak in 1997.

The new study drew on broad federal survey data from more than 17,000 middle school and high school students in 2011 and more than 22,000 in 2012. But instead of following the same students over time – which many experts say is crucial to determine whether there has been a progression from e-cigarettes to actual smoking — the study examined two different groups of students, essentially creating two snapshots.

Image: Teen smoking e-cigarette, via Shutterstock

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Smoking May Alter Teens’ Brain Structure

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Teens who smoke cigarettes–even those who don’t smoke “heavily,” can quickly alter their brain structure in ways that were previously thought to be reserved for long-time smokers.  These are the findings of a new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, which found that smoking one pack of cigarettes or less each day can lead to brain patterns that lock people into dependence on nicotine.  More from Time.com:

[Edythe] London and her colleagues focused on a brain region called the insula, since previous studies in animal and adults showed that its size and volume were affected by smoking. Of the regions in the cortical, or memory, awareness and language parts of the brain, the insula contains the most receptors for nicotine. The region is responsible for decision-making and helping to establish a person’s conscious awareness of his internal state. In studies of stroke patients, smokers who lost function of the right insula in the stroke quit smoking, and reported feeling no cravings for nicotine. And in earlier studies London’s team conducted, they found a strong relationship between how much smokers who watched videos of people smoking experienced cravings for cigarettes and the activity of the insula, which lit up on PET scans.

When London’s team looked at the brains of the 18 smoking teens and 24 non-smoking adolescents, aged 16 to 21 years, using structural MRI, they found no differences overall in the insula region. But a closer examination revealed that the right insula of the smokers was thinner than those of the nonsmokers.

“The brain is still undergoing development when someone is in their late teens,” she says. “It’s possible that smoking during this period could have effects that could alter tobacco dependence later in life, and that the insult could alter the trajectory of brain development.”

While the study doesn’t establish whether the differences in the insula can lead to smoking, or is the result of smoking, London says it highlights the role that the brain region may play in how people respond to nicotine and cigarettes. “I think this is very exciting because it points to a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability factor either to become nicotine dependent or for the effects of smoking to ultimately alter the trajectory of brain development,” she says. That trajectory could affect not only smoking behavior but decision-making in general, since the insula is important in such assessments.

Image: Teen smoker, via Shutterstock
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Strict Parents Less Likely to Have Teens Who Smoke

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Parents who are “strict” in the sense that they set limits for their children are less likely to have teenagers who experiment with cigarette smoking, according to a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.  More from Reuters:

Researchers surveyed middle schoolers from diverse backgrounds and found those whose parents had an “authoritative” and “structured” parenting style were also more likely to be discouraged from smoking by their parents and less likely to become smokers.

“Many past studies have examined broad parenting styles, however this study looked at how specific parenting strategies may help protect youth from cigarette smoking initiation,” said Cassandra Stanton, an assistant professor in the oncology department at Georgetown University, who led the study.

“We also note that unlike many studies in the area that are conducted in largely white middle class samples, this study was conducted in an urban multi-ethnic low-income school district,” Stanton told Reuters Health.

It’s important to identify ways of helping parents prevent kids from starting to smoke, Stanton’s team writes in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, because the majority of lifetime smokers begin before the age of 18.

Although the number of teenage smokers has declined significantly, one in three young adults reports smoking at least once in the past 30 days, according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Image: No smoking sign, via Shutterstock

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Number of Teens Trying E-Cigarettes Doubled in the Past Year

Monday, November 18th, 2013

The number of teenagers who say they have tried smoking cigarettes has stabilized over the past year, but those who says they have tried nicotine by using electronic cigarettes–a habit known as “vaping”–has doubled in that same period of time, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The study also revealed that an increasing number of teens are smoking flavored tobacco at hookah lounges, or smoking cigars–all before they are legally allowed to use tobacco products at age 18.  More from Boston.com:

This bad news, reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, puts even more pressure on the government to strictly regulate e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco as stringently as they regulate cigarettes….

….Unfortunately, e-cigarettes are cheaper, easier to access, and marketed more heavily to young people than traditional cigarettes, which fuels the teen vaping trend according to the CDC’s senior scientific adviser Brian King.

New rules are expected to be issued within the next few months by the US Food and Drug Administration, but no one knows how tough they will be.

About 90 percent of adult smokers become addicted to tobacco by the time they finish high school, so public health experts believe efforts to keep teens from lighting up could be the ultimate solution to solving the nation’s smoking problem once and for all.

The CDC report was based on a 2012 survey of nearly 25,000 middle and high school students in the United States and found that e-cigarette use increased among middle school students from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent in 2012. The percentage of high school students smoking e-cigarettes increased in one year from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, and those smoking hookahs increased to 5.4 percent from 4.1 percent.

“These percentages may seen low, but they account for nearly 2 million students,” King said, many of whom mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes are harmless and that hookah use is safer than cigarettes. King stressed that the tobacco burned and inhaled from hookahs may deliver even more harmful carcinogens, and e-cigarettes are like the “wild, wild west” with no one knowing exactly what they contain.

Image: Electronic cigarettes, via Shutterstock

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Flavored Little Cigars Bringing the Teen Smoking Rate Up

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

An illustration shows a regular cigarette next to a little cigar.

“Little cigars” that resemble cigarettes and boast flavors like candy apple or chocolate are increasing in popularity among teenagers, many of whom might be deceived into thinking they are safer or less addictive than cigarettes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Little cigar use is so popular, some forty percent of US middle schoolers say they have tried them, and they are boosting the overall rate of teens who smoke, alarming medical experts and public health officials alike.  More from NBC News:

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the new data “disturbing.”

“Flavored little cigars are basically a deception,” Frieden says. “They’re marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they’re not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they’re increasing the number of kids who smoke.”

A little cigar looks almost exactly like a cigarette: It’s the same size and shape, but instead of being wrapped in white paper, it’s wrapped in brown paper that contains some tobacco leaf. Many little cigars have a filter, like a cigarette, according to the American Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent teen smoking.

“What makes a cigar a cigar is that it has some tobacco in the paper. Little cigars — there’s just enough tobacco in that paper to make them cigars,” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association. “They really are cigarettes in cigar clothing.”

Not that cigars are healthy. Little cigars – and large cigars and cigarillos (a longer, slimmer version of the classic large cigar) – contain the same harmful and addictive compounds as cigarettes. They can cause lung, oral, laryngeal and esophageal cancers and they increase the smoker’s risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The only upside of a cigar is the way they are usually smoked: Cigar smokers tend to take shallower puffs instead of deep inhales. But some research has shown people tend to smoke little cigars just like they’d smoke cigarettes, by inhaling deeply, which can exacerbate the tobacco’s health risks.

But because little cigars are technically not cigarettes, they are taxed far less than cigarettes, making them that much more appealing to teenagers, because “kids are especially price-sensitive,” Sward says. A pack of little cigars can cost less than half as much as a pack of cigarettes, experts say.

Image: Little cigars and cigarettes, via American Legacy Foundation

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