A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine has determined that it takes only two days from the start of smoking for youths to become addicted to nicotine. The study looked at the smoking habits of 1,246 sixth-graders in Massachusetts public schools. The results contradict previous beliefs that long-term smoking is necessary to develop an addictions.

The students participating in the study were interviewed 11 times over a period of four years. Saliva samples were taken to determine blood levels of nicotine and link them to addictive behavior. Almost a third of the children smoked a cigarette. Over 17 percent inhaled, and 7.5 percent used tobacco daily. The analysis was limited to the 217 inhalers in the group. The average age of the participants was just under 13 years old. Of them, 38 percent developed tobacco dependence, and 70 percent had cravings that were difficult to control which led to their smoking every day. About 10 percent became addicted within two days of smoking their first cigarette, and this percentage grew to 25 percent within a month. As a result, researchers told the kids that one cigarette was all it took to get hooked on tobacco.

Those teens who smoke even just a few cigarettes per month suffer withdraw symptoms when deprived of the nicotine in their system. The amount of nicotine in only one cigarette is enough to saturate the nicotine receptors in the human brain which alters the structure and function of the brain within a day of the first dose. In the past, it was thought that those who smoked no less than five cigarettes a day had withdraw symptoms.

This information explains why just one cigarette can cause an ex-smoker to relapse and why when relapsing after several years cannot control their craving with just one cigarette per month. Currently, smoking is said to be the number one cause of preventable death in the United States with 440,000 deaths each year.

For related articles visit http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,291580,00.html and http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070703171843.htm.

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