NZ Herald February 21, 2008
Smoking just one cigarette will leave one in four New Zealand children 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 regular smokers. 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. Christchurch cigarette researcher and public health specialist Dr Murray Laugesen, who with Auckland University’s 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.
WHAT THE STUDY SHOWS
* 38 per cent of New Zealand 14- 15-year-old smokers smoke daily.
* 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 boys.
WHAT THE STUDY DID
* Interviewed almost 100,000 New Zealand smokers, aged 14 and 15, from 350 high schools, between 2002 and 2004. Collected data on demographics, tobacco use and addiction indicators. Compared amount of tobacco use, with symptoms of addiction.