Casual Teenage Smokers at Risk for Addiction

Between 1998 and 2001, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, conducted a study of trends in nicotine dependence among adolescents.

Knowledge about adolescent smokers has been limited and smoking prevention efforts directed toward adolescents tended to have short-lived effects.

Key Findings

  • Non-daily and daily adolescent smokers both show dependence on tobacco. The finding indicates that even non-daily smokers absorb physiologically active doses of nicotine, putting them at high risk of becoming daily smokers.
  • Investigators also believe that adolescents, even those who do not smoke every day, may become dependent on smoking sooner than previously believed.
  • After smoking a cigarette, adolescents reported decreases in desire and urge to smoke.
  • Daily and non-daily smokers showed an increase in their heart rate of 37 percent and 33 percent respectively after they smoked a cigarette. This change in heart rate is about twice the rate for adult smokers.
  • Novice smokers may smoke more to achieve pleasurable effects than to alleviate withdrawal.
  • As in adult smokers, smoking appears to improve a novice smoker's ability to focus on a challenging mental task, an effect that could provide an incentive to continue smoking.