Today over 2000 votes were cast in
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Teens addicted after
February 21, 2008. NZ Herald.
By Craig Borley
Smoking just one cigarette will leave one in four New
Zealandchildren with symptoms of addiction, a ground-breaking
research report has found.
And teenage girls are at greatest risk, according to
the New Zealand-based survey of almost 100,000 14- and 15-year-olds.
Of respondents who smoked at least one cigarette, 50
per cent went on to become smokers. After smoking 10 cigarettes, more
than 80 per cent of children became regular smokers.
After 100 cigarettes, 95 per cent went on to become
Tobacco cravings were reported by 46 per cent of those
smoking less than one cigarette each month, while each subsequent
cigarette meant a further slide towards addiction.
The study also identified that symptoms of tobacco
addiction occurred earlier in girls than boys.
cigarette researcher and public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen, who
Professor Robert Scragg and American
researchers Dr Robert J Wellman and Professor Joseph Difranza
was responsible for the report, said teenage girls' increased danger of
addiction was related to estrogen, the hormone responsible for sexual
maturity in females. .."And that's not well
known. It's a hormonal effect."
But the study's most startling discovery was new
evidence of the danger even low levels of cigarette smoking posed to
"We knew cigarettes were addictive. But what is
new is we have related the addiction to the number of cigarettes. And
that hasn't been done before," Dr Laugesen said.
With tobacco smoking projected to cause almost 5000
early deaths annually for the next 30 years, banning tobacco displays
would be a good first step in tackling the problem, he said.
That suggestion had been debated over the last year,
with Waikato District Health Board - one of the
country's biggest - last week calling for a
complete ban on the displays.
In a submission to the Ministry of Health, WDHB chief
executive Craig Climo said the displays
undermined and contradicted health messages, endangered children and young people visiting the retail outlets,
and discouraged smokers' quit attempts.
The Ministry was also last week presented with a
submission from a coalition representing more than 170 convenience stores
and tobacconists, requesting the Government drop proposals to ban the
In its submission, the Stay Displays Coalition of Retailers
rejected claims tobacco displays made people take up smoking.
Dr Laugesen admitted the issue was a "hot
topic" but said it was "near the goal line already,
and this may give it a final push".
A specific warning to youth on cigarette packets could
also help lower the uptake rate, he said.
However, children would always be able to find tobacco
as long as it was being sold in shops, he said.
"All smoking households are cigarette
distribution centres as far as young people are
concerned. So are older brothers and sisters, school buses, schools.
"Parents cannot protect their children from
smoking. There is a case to consider the elimination of all sales over
the next 10 years."
WHAT THE STUDY SHOWS
* 38 per cent of New
15-year-olds who aresmokers,smoke
* Signs of addiction are present in 25 per cent of
young smokers after the first cigarette.
* Each subsequent cigarette decreases ability of
smoker to quit.
* Even irregular tobacco use is linked to addiction.
* Addiction symptoms appear earlier in girls, than
WHAT THE STUDY DID
* Interviewed almost 100,000 New
smokers, aged 14 and 15, from 350 high schools,
between 2002 and 2004.
* Collected data on demographics, tobacco use and
* Compared amount of tobacco use, with symptoms of