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Preteens surrounded by smokers get hooked on nicotine
Date:6/13/2011

Montreal, June 13, 2011 Exposure to secondhand smoke can create symptoms of nicotine dependence in non-smoking preteens, according to a new study from Concordia University and the University of Montreal.

Published in the Oxford journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the study also found that tweens who repeatedly observe a parent, sibling, friend or neighbor consuming cigarettes are more likely to light up themselves as adolescents.

"Kids who see others smoking are more likely to take up the habit because they don't perceive cigarettes as unhealthy," says lead study author Simon Racicot, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and a member of its Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab. "We found that kids who'd never smoked who were exposed to tobacco use were more likely to hold positive beliefs about the killer habit. These are the kids who are more likely to start smoking as teenagers."

This new investigation builds on previous long-term studies examining the negative effects of being surrounded by smokers.

"To our knowledge, this is one of first studies to show how increased exposure to secondhand smoke leads to youth who've never smoked to report having symptoms of nicotine dependence, such as craving cigarettes and finding it hard to go without smoking," says Racicot.

Senior author Jennifer J. McGrath, a professor in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and director of its Pediatric Public Health Psychology Lab, says an estimated 60 per cent of children are exposed to secondhand smoke across North America.

"Greater exposure to smokers is largely associated with greater exposure to nicotine," she stresses. "Children exposed to the same amounts of secondhand smoke as adults absorb higher doses of nicotine. Early findings suggest that secondhand smoke exposure could possibly trigger addiction in the brain before kids actually start smoking themselv
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Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
s-j.desjardins@concordia.ca
514-848-2424 x5068
Concordia University
Source:Eurekalert  

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