Adolescents and Adult Activities

The making of smokers

Making a smoker

Chemicals are added to tobacco cigarettes to make them more addictive. 3, 4

Scientists employed by tobacco companies created the modern cigarette. When a tobacco cigarette is burned, the smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals; at least 250 of which cause harm and 69 cause cancer. 5

examples of chemicals and what they do
  • Some strange ingredients can be added to cigarette tobacco such as smoke flavour, furfuryl mercaptan, snakeroot oil and 6-Acetoxydihydrotheaspirane.

  • Ammonia salts lower the pH of the smoke which increases the amount of nicotine absorbed into the bloodstream (increased bioavailibility).

  • Menthol numbs the lungs to suppress coughing (local anesthetic).

  • Eucalyptol and theobromine chemically stretch the lungs (bronchial dilators) to help deliver more smoke into the lungs.

  • Lactones reduce the body’s ability to get rid of nicotine.

  • Acetaldehyde acts as an antidepressant in the brain (MOA inhibitor). 3

Nicotine is up to 3x less addictive than tobacco smoke Shareable.

The bar graph (on the Shareable) shows the percentage of people that were able to stop using different sources of nicotine: cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and nicotine gum. Each volunteer was given placebo medications and after 6 months reported whether they quit using the nicotine source.

The graph shows that the people that were on nicotine gum (which is just nicotine) had the easiest time quitting because 36% were able to quit. The people that were smoking had the hardest time quitting because only 10% quit. This indicates that cigarette smoke is up to three times more addictive than just nicotine on its own. 6

Experimenting with adult activities is a normal part of adolescent development.7

“Adolescence is defined by characteristic behaviors that include high levels of risk taking, exploration, novelty and sensation seeking, social interaction and play behaviors.” 8

It is not uncommon for teenagers to experiment with adult taboos such as sex, alcohol and smoking (9).

During adolescents, the brain starts to  build adult connections that make different parts of the brain work together more efficiently. The last part to develop is the frontal lobe that controls judgment and insight and this is why teens take more risks than adults and why addiction often starts in youth. 7

Teens are different than adults in that they are more susceptible to peer pressure and they are “sensation-seeking”; they do things that give a rush such as driving a car fast or eating Tide Pods. 10 Therefore, teenagers are the age group that typically tries smoking 7 and why “virtually all cigarette smoking begins before 18 years of age…” 11

The more cigarettes a person smokes, the more likely they are to become a smoker. 6

The key factor to creating a smoker is to get the tobacco smoke into the person. 6 Addiction is a loss of ‘autonomy’; autonomy means to act independently of something. So, someone who is addicted to tobacco smoke has difficulty functioning without cigarettes. 12

The Hooked On Nicotine Checklist (HONC) Scale is an assessment tool used to determine if someone is addicted to smoking.

The more ‘yes’ answers to these questions, the more a person is addicted to tobacco smoke:

1. Have you ever tried to quit, but couldn’t?

2. Do you smoke now because it is really hard to quit?

3. Have you ever felt like you were addicted to tobacco?

4. Do you ever have strong cravings to smoke?

5. Have you ever felt like you really needed a cigarette?

6. Is it hard to keep from smoking in places where you are not supposed to?

When you haven’t used tobacco for a while … OR When you tried to stop smoking …

7. did you find it hard to concentrate because you couldn’t smoke?

8. did you feel more irritable because you couldn’t smoke?

9. did you feel a strong need or urge to smoke?

10. did you feel nervous, restless or anxious because you couldn’t smoke? 13

Loss of Autonomy Shareable

This graph shows at least one answer of ‘yes’ on the HONC scale by the number of cigarettes smoked.

  • After only one to two cigarettes, 25% have lost some autonomy!

  • At 20 cigarettes (a pack of cigarettes), half are reporting signs of addiction.

  • At 100 cigarettes (4-5 packs) 94% are becoming life-long smokers. 6

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