Smoking cigarettes at a young age is usually considered to be an innocent play, but smoking a cigarette with an acquaintance’s smoking cigarette could be the start of something difficult to get rid of.
A study of adolescents who smoke within the scientific journal Pediatrics examines the progression of nicotine addiction among sixth-grade students. After studying 1,246 middle school children through four different years the researchers found a pattern that resembles occasionally smoking cigarettes that eventually resulted in an addiction to tobacco. A month of smoking a cigarette will be enough to cause it.
“When people are simply craving to smoke a cigarette occasionally they believe they like smoking cigarettes,” says co-author Dr. Joseph DiFranza of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. “As time goes on, they notice that they’ll be craving a cigarette. Even when they’re with someone else who isn’t smoking, something pops into their minds and tells them it’s time to have cigarettes.”
He continues, “When they get to the point where they need a smoking cigarette, they are in a desperate desire to smoke and need to smoke to clear the head.”
More Than A Taste
The study found that a third of the youngsters in the study were smokers and had inhaled cigarettes. Nearly two-thirds who’d tried smoking cigarettes stated that they had smoked at least once per month, and half of them said they had symptoms of dependence.
“I didn’t smoke every day. It was once in for a while, and it became more frequent when I was in my teens and was 17” she recalls. “It was that I had friends who smoke, so it was only with them that I would smoke.”
She didn’t think about herself as in a state of addiction to smoking cigarettes, neither did the children who were part of the study. It wasn’t a thought for DiGeronomio that she was hooked until she turned 18 and began to realize that she was able to purchase her first pack legally. She says that now that her smoking habit is seven cigarettes per day and has talked about stopping smoking once she has completed her studies.
DiGeronimo was one of the crowds that gathered in front of a bar in Washington, D.C. A dense gray cloud spewed out of an Ashtray stand. It became even denser when the band inside the club was about to end an entire set.
This is a fairly typical illustration of how addiction can progress, DiFranza says. He discovered an array of signs and symptoms in sixth graders that were associated with the frequency at which youngsters reported smoking. After two years of the study, a quarter of students who had previously smoked cigarettes found that they had no control over their habit. Although it might be just every month, they would smoke.
“What happens is that when you first start to get addicted, smoking one cigarette a month or a single cigarette a week will keep your craving fulfilled,” says Fidanza. “But as time passes it becomes necessary to smoke cigarettes more often. People may be hooked for longer than a year before feeling the urge to smoke cigarettes every single day.”
The most frequently reported symptom was a desire to smoke smoking cigarettes. This is an indication of that the smoker will likely to turn into an everyday smoker even if they were at the time only smoking once a month. Some reported that they felt withdrawal. They struggled to concentrate and were more stressed. They also experienced difficulties sleeping.
Young people can smoke off of friends and not be able to say they are addicted. They believe that if they’re not purchasing cigarettes, they’re not hooked. However, over time they increase the frequency at which they smoke grows. Then, they realize that they won’t be able to succeed without purchasing cigarettes.
A few years later, about a fourth of students who attempted to quit smoking developed withdrawal symptoms.
Before this research, DiFranza states that the majority of studies did not consider wanting cigarettes occasionally to be a signal that addiction was on the way to begin. The study concluded that people should be taught that this is a sign of the beginning of addiction, and also the most effective time to stop.
Smokers who continue to smoke even when they do, DiFranza says — are deceiving themselves if they think they don’t suffer from an addiction to nicotine.