Children who smoke just once are twice as likely to become regular smokers later on in life. In a British study published in the July 2006 issue of Tobacco Control, children who had tried smoking just once around age 11 were twice as likely to have become regular smokers by age 14 than children who had never tried smoking. These results include gaps of no smoking up to three years for most of the study participants.
In a separate study published in Pediatrics in 2002 and updated in 2006, researchers reported that once a teen had tried cigarettes, very little the teen did afterward changed whether they became addicted or not.
Prevention of that initial experience with cigarettes is key. It is important to talk with children to educate them on the dangers of smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke. Smokers who begin smoking during their childhood and adolescence will have an increased risk of developing smoking-related cancers and non-cancerous diseases. Smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths and is responsible for a large portion of larynx, oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, and bladder cancers.
Current smokers under age 18 can work with cessation counselors at QuitLine Iowa with permission from their parents. Quitline Iowa is operated by the Iowa Tobacco Research Center, a part of the College of Public Health at The University of Iowa. QuitLine Iowa is a free service for all Iowans; call their toll-free number (800-784-8669) to receive information about quitting smoking and receive assistance in developing your own quit plan.
For more information about lung cancer, tobacco cessation, or any cancer concern, contact the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center - Cancer Information Service
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