Today’s column deals with the highly addictive properties of nicotine and the impact this drug has on the world’s population, especially youth. Although traditional smoking has declined overall, there has been a shift from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, with the belief that they are safer and not as addictive as regular cigarettes. However, that is not the case, with nicotine, the highly addictive drug, present in both, a fact that parents should emphasize with their children. Even a few cigarettes a week can easily lead to addiction or dependence, especially if smoking is started at a young age. Evidence for this fact was reported in the January edition of Pediatrics, which confirmed that the earlier in life a person is exposed to nicotine, the less likely they will be able to quit and the more likely it is that they will consume greater quantities.
A great majority of tobacco-addicted adults report that they began smoking prior to the age of 18, confirming the idea that the younger a person starts, the greater the risk of the habit continuing as an adult, and the harder it is to quit. In addition, it is harder for younger smokers to quit than it is for adults.
Although e-cigarettes are touted as an aid to quit smoking, there is no evidence that such is the case. Just the opposite, since e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they actually encourage rather than discourage smoking. There are now seven scientific studies that have shown that young people that begin smoking e-cigarettes are more than three times more likely to be smoking traditional cigarettes within a year. E-cigarettes are also not as harmless as they are made out to be, with accidental poisonings on the rise, including one death.