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UCI Tobacco research center reports why teens are most vulnerable to smoking addiction

Irvine, Calif., May 20, 2004 -- Teenagers have long been regarded as the age group most vulnerable to the addictive lure of cigarettes, and a new report compiling five years of studies from a UC Irvine tobacco research program provides details why this is very likely true.

The report, "Closing the Gap on Youth Tobacco Use," determines that adolescents are more susceptible than adults to the rewarding effects of smoking, starting with their first exposure to nicotine. Issued by the UC Irvine Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, the report includes findings from the research center, which conducted animal, human and policy studies to identify specific factors that promote tobacco use and addiction in adolescents. Findings from Brown University, as well as the universities of Pennsylvania, Southern California, and Wisconsin are also featured in the report.

"The knowledge gained from working together will help us increase our understanding of how young people can become vulnerable to tobacco and the factors that contribute to tobacco dependence," said Frances Leslie, director of the UCI research center and a professor of pharmacology. "We hope that ultimately, our shared research will be applied to tobacco prevention efforts."

The report highlights major research findings, including:

  • Age makes a difference. Adolescents are more receptive to the rewarding effects of nicotine than adults, making cigarette addiction more likely to occur during adolescence.
  • Teens may not feel the negative effects of nicotine as strongly.
  • Another chemical in cigarette smoke works with nicotine to produce more rewarding effects in young people than nicotine alone can do. Together, these chemicals can alter the moods, behaviors and thought processes of teens.
  • Nicotine causes changes in the adolescent brains of rats after just one exposure.
  • Teens with ADHD may turn to smoking as a form of self-medication.
  • Progr
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Contact: Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
University of California - Irvine
20-May-2004


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