Many people justify smoking one or two cigarettes once in a while—known as social smoking—by thinking occasional smoking won’t damage their health as much as smoking every day. Unfortunately, smoking fewer cigarettes does not reduce the risk of smoking-related health problems.
With occasional smoking, you still have several health risks, like:
- Heart disease
- Lung and other cancers
- Respiratory tract infections
- Slower recovery from torn cartilage and other injuries
It’s not just the body—the brain suffers as well. A 2011 study shows that even occasional smoking affects memory. Northumbria University in the United Kingdom gave a memory test to college students who smoked either occasionally, regularly, or not at all. Results showed that both occasional and regular smokers performed much worse than nonsmokers on this task. In fact, social smokers performed just as badly as regular smokers.
Researchers involved in the study concluded that smoking damages memory no matter how often you do it. And decline in smoking-related memory has been linked with changes in the brain, such as brain shrinkage. That can’t be good.
Regain Your Memory
Fortunately, the damage doesn’t have to be permanent. The psychologists who researched how smoking affects memory published another study last year showing that quitting smoking can actually improve memory, restoring everyday memory to nearly the same level as that of people who don’t smoke.
For this study, participants were taken on a tour of a university campus and asked to remember a series of predetermined tasks at specific locations. While current smokers remembered 59% of tasks, people who had given up smoking remembered 74% of their required tasks. Those who had never smoked remembered 81% of tasks.
What Do You Think?
Does knowing that occasional cigarette smoking has the same brain and physical health effects as regular smoking make you think twice before lighting up? If you smoke now, have you found it harder to remember everyday tasks or errands than before you started smoking?
The average price for a pack of cigarettes (PDF, 57.91 KB) nationwide is around $5.50—more or less depending on the State you live in. The spending calculator lets you enter the number of packs smoked per week as well as the price per pack. Then, it calculates the monthly and yearly cost.
Let’s say you smoke one pack a week at the average price of $5.50 per pack—that’s $22 a month and $264 a year. If you smoke two packs a week, the numbers double—$44 a month and more than $500 a year! I’m sure you can think of better things to do with $500....
According to NIDA research, nicotine in cigarettes is addictive, and most people smoke tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. Once people get addicted, they need more and more of the drug to get the same effect. That means smoking leads to more smoking, which leads to more money for the cigarette companies and less for you—not to mention the hit on your health.
When you quit, treat yourself to a reward, and pay for it with the money you used to spend on cigarettes. To talk to someone about quitting, call the national toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
- Urea, a compound found in urine
- Diammonium phosphate, used to make fertilizer
- Levulinic acid, used in cleaning solvents
- Chocolate (not the Hershey bar kind, the bitter baking kind)
He found secretions from the anal gland of the civet cat as well as the Siberian beaver—ewwwwww!
These are just a few of more than 158 additives some cigarette manufacturers roll up in cigarettes.
What Makes Smoking Cigarettes so Addictive?
You may wonder—why these ingredients? Nicotine, the main addictive chemical in all cigarettes, and other ingredients are designed to make it harder to quit:
- Chocolate is meant to make cigarettes taste better, but cocoa is also a bronchodilator, meaning it helps open the lungs and makes them more receptive to the smoke.
- Ammonia breaks down nicotine molecules into a “free base” state—just like the process that makes crack cocaine so potent and addictive—which adds to cigarettes’ potency.
- Levulinic acid increases the efficiency of nicotine uptake, or binding, in the brain.
- Licorice, nutmeg powder, dandelion root extract, sugar, and prune juice are flavors added to cigarettes that make the smoke smoother and better smelling.
Proctor’s research found some odd complaints from smokers over the years. For example, a 1994 Philip Morris Co. document revealed contamination in cigarettes from rubber bands, machine belts and lubricants, ink and tax stamp solvents, glass fibers and plastics, and stains called “consistent with blood.” That doesn’t even include the bugs or worms (dead and alive!) that have been reported in cigarettes!
For more startling facts on smoking, check out the American Legacy Foundation. This group was set up using the proceeds from the Government’s lawsuit against tobacco companies for fooling the public into thinking smoking was harmless. Find out more in Legacy’s truth campaign for youth.
The Shoutout is gathering volume and the message is coming through loud and clear: JUST THINK TWICE!
Myth: If I smoke cigarettes now and then, I won’t get addicted.
- Think twice: Each puff of a cigarette gives a smoker about 1 to 2 milligrams of nicotine. Although that may not seem like much, it is enough to make someone addicted. Learn more.
Myth: Huffing – like sniffing Sharpies or household cleaners – really doesn’t do anything bad; just gives me a quick high.
- Think twice: In the short term, these chemicals can cause dizziness, loss of consciousness, bad mood swings, and headaches. In the long term, toxic fumes can take the place of oxygen in the blood, which can damage your brain and other organs. Learn more.
Myth: Prescription drugs can’t be dangerous if a doctor prescribes them.
- Think twice ADHD medications like Adderall can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, psychosis, and seizures if they’re abused; pain medications like Vicodin can cause respiratory depression and arrest, and even death, particularly when combined with alcohol. Learn more.
Throughout the day on November 8, watch our Sara Bellum Blog, where we will showcase as many shoutouts as we find. Follow us on Twitter (#drugfacts2010) and check out NIDA’s National Drug Facts Week Facebook page. On November 9, check out Chat Day as we shout it out for teens everywhere – First, get the facts on drugs. Then choose health.
We already know how harmful smoking is to your health, but did you know it can be bad for the environment?
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the United States—and the world.
Since cigarette butts are so small, most people who smoke don’t think much about their effect on our environment. In fact, many smokers think putting out their cigarettes on the ground is the “right” thing to do. But the effects of tossing that butt are far from harmless.
Along with making sidewalks and parks look dirty, cigarette butts are a toxic threat to the environment and to wildlife. Here are some reasons why:
- Cigarette filters are made from plastic that does not quickly degrade. Depending on the conditions, it can take 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to decompose.
- Cigarette filters are meant to absorb the toxins from cigarettes that are dangerous for people to inhale, such as tar—that means those toxins are being thrown on the ground with the filter and polluting the environment.
- Cigarette butts also pollute our water, traveling through storm water systems to end up in streams, rivers, and waterways. Marine life can mistake them for food—in fact, plastic pieces from the filter have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, and other marine animals. This can cause severe internal injuries, suffocation, starvation, and death.
Smokeless tobacco is the latest nicotine-based product to drift into the marketplace and try to catch the attention of young people.
Snus pouches are a new version of snuff, or chewing tobacco laced with nicotine. Instead of putting a loose wad of tobacco inside the upper lip or between the cheek and gums, snus pouches look like small tea bags. These products are “spitless”, making their use easy to hide. Some tobacco companies even add flavors – like vanilla, peppermint, or spearmint – along with a sweetener.
These flavors are more likely to make the product appeal to young people.
Isn’t snus safer than cigarettes?
Snus has a similar effect on your brain, acting as a stimulant. Although it is marketed as an alternative to cigarettes, the little packets of wet tobacco are just as addictive. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies have determined that smokeless tobacco products:
- Cause serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases of the mouth, gums, and teeth;
- May increase the risk of serious diseases when used in combination with smoking;
- Cause adverse reproductive effects and should not be used during pregnancy; and
- Are not a safe alternative to smoking.
So don’t let a clever name, fun packaging, or candy flavors fool you. By the way, here’s the un-fun part of the package, but that’s because it’s required by law:
Warning: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
Who’s using snus?
According to NIDA’s 2009 Monitoring the Future survey of teens (PDF, 1.34 MB), the use of smokeless tobacco is increasing significantly among 10th and 12th graders. The percentage of 12th graders reporting past-month smokeless tobacco use increased from 6.1 percent in 2006 to 8.4 percent in 2009, a 38 percent increase, while the percentage of 10th graders reporting smokeless tobacco use increased from 4.9 percent in 2004 to 6.5 percent in 2009, a 33 percent increase.
The relationship between genes and addiction is complex. Researchers estimate that someone’s risk for becoming addicted to drugs depends both on their genetic makeup and on environmental factors, such as whether their friends abuse drugs.
NIDA researchers are busy studying which genes are linked to increased risk for drug addiction. For example, in 2012, a study looked at a gene that is tied to nicotine addiction and found that people with a “high-risk” variation of this gene had a harder time quitting smoking than people with a “low-risk” variation of the same gene. Generally, people with the high-risk gene took longer to quit smoking and were more likely to be heavy smokers than those with the low-risk version.
If researchers can zero in on the genes that may lead to increased risk of addiction, it might help doctors and other clinicians identify patients who would respond best to particular treatments designed to help them quit. For example, in the same study, people with the high-risk variation of the gene were three times more likely to be able to quit smoking if they used a medication than if they didn’t use one.
NIDA is also working to develop vaccines that would help protect people from addiction and drugs’ other harmful effects.
Never underestimate the power of a bright white smile. NIDA’s 2008 Monitoring the Future Survey found that the vast majority of teens—75% of high school seniors—would “prefer to date people who don’t smoke.”
According to scientists at the University of Michigan, “teens should take note that becoming a smoker will make them less attractive to the great majority of the opposite sex—a high price to pay.” You can say that again! Dating is hard enough already—why smoke cigarettes and make it even harder?
After major league Hall of Famer Tony Gwynne of the San Diego Padres was diagnosed with parotid cancer, or cancer of the salivary gland, Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg announced his decision to give up smokeless tobacco, or “dip.” Gwynne was Strasburg’s hero growing up—and he made a conscious decision to copy his hero’s every move as an aspiring professional baseball player, even the “dip” habit.
Just like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Whether you smoke or chew it, tobacco has been proven to cause cancer.
Use of dip can lead to mouth cancer affecting the lips and gums, along with glands called the parotid glands, which pump saliva into your mouth. Juices produced from the dip contain heavy metals that, with repeated use, may lead to esophageal and pancreatic cancer—two very aggressive forms of the disease. Treatment can require several surgeries that leave the face and jaw disfigured, and in the most serious cases, it may even require removal of the jaw.
Sounds pretty scary, but not everyone is thinking of the consequences. The biggest appeal for young people to take up the habit is often through sports, kind of ironic since dip is definitely not healthy or good for athletic performance.
Strasburg’s announcement that he wants to give quit the habit may help change this unhealthy part of baseball culture. He doesn’t want young people who may admire his playing skills to think that this addictive habit has anything to do with his game. Strasburg admits that quitting is tough, and is taking things one step at a time. Now it’s Major League Baseball’s turn. Despite the fact that chewing tobacco has already been banned in Little League, high school and college play, the MLB isn’t banning use of dip, yet.
Sometimes, it takes a hero to throw the first pitch and help people understand that winners don’t dip.
Many of us don’t realize how much secondhand smoke we inhale each day. We tend to forget about the person smoking outside a restaurant or sitting on a park bench. People’s smoking in the apartment next door affects us as well.
While these encounters with secondhand smoke seem harmless, they can mean a lot to your health.
- Secondhand smoke contains many of the same chemicals as inhaled smoke.
- According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, effects of secondhand smoke kill 42,000 Americans each year, including nearly 900 infants.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in a healthy nonsmoker.
- Another recent study found that people exposed to secondhand smoke have higher rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
To figure out your level of secondhand smoke exposure, doctors can measure the amount of cotinine in your blood, saliva, or urine. Cotinine is the chemical created by the body when nicotine is metabolized. Measuring cotinine levels is more accurate than relying on people to remember how much exposure they have to smoking.
How can you avoid secondhand smoke?
- Politely ask people not to smoke around you.
- Don’t allow smoking in your home or car.
- Encourage people to use designated smoking areas that are far away from building entrances and crowded areas.
- Encourage friends and family members who want to quit smoking.
Are you worried about being exposed to more smoke than you thought? What can you do to reduce your exposure?
Have you been at a restaurant or party where people are smoking, and acting like their clouds of smoke are no big deal? Do you put up with breathing secondhand smoke to hang out with your friends? In this video, Dr. Gaya Dowling and Dr. Redonna Chandler sink a few balls while sharing some real facts about smoking.
Fact: Nicotine is addictive.
Fact: Most smokers start smoking before the age of 18.
Fact: It only takes eight seconds for the nicotine in cigarette smoke to be inhaled, enter your brain, and start affecting your brain cells—whether or not you're the one who lit up in the first place!
That's less time than it takes most people to cue up and make a shot. Watch the video and see what you think.
You probably know that smoking is NOT cool—and that it’s really dangerous, too. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and kills nearly a half a million people each year. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke have been linked to serious long-term side effects, including cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and even death. People who smoke may become infertile, and pregnant women who smoke are more at risk for stillbirths, having babies with low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will require prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States. Check out the new warning labels here: http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/Labeling/CigaretteWarningLabels/default.htm.
But cigarette smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker—“secondhand” smoke also affects families and friends and many thousands of others. Secondhand smoke is exactly what it sounds like: nonsmokers inhale the smoke that “firsthand” smokers exhale from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that each year, secondhand smoke causes as many as 3,400 lung cancer-related deaths in the United States.
So, if you want a longer, healthier life, better to indulge in activities like sports, yoga, running, and spending time with friends and family.
Worldwide, nearly 6 million people die each year because of tobacco use. That’s enough to fill about 60 average football stadiums.
Tomorrow is World No Tobacco Day, which is organized by the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative. This year’s theme is: Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship.
The World Health Organization believes that tobacco is so deadly that all promotion of tobacco products should be outlawed. The United States already has set many limits on tobacco promotion.
In the U.S., it’s illegal to:
- Sell tobacco products to people under age 18.
- Sell cigarettes in packs of fewer than 20.
- Sell tobacco products in vending machines.
- Give out free samples of tobacco products.
Tobacco companies in the United States are banned from:
- Using their name in sponsorship at any athletic, musical, social, or cultural event.
- Using music or sound effects in audio ads—they can only use words.
- Selling hats and t-shirts with tobacco brand logos.
- Selling flavored tobacco products.
- Advertising on television.
Of course, more work is needed to keep people from using tobacco products. Research has proven that tobacco negatively affects the health of both your body and brain. What’s more, smoking doesn’t just harm smokers—it also harms everyone around them.
Comment on this post and tell us what you think. Do you think tobacco promotion should be banned completely? Do you know anyone who has gotten sick from smoking?
Have you noticed that a lot of restaurants don't have indoor smoking sections anymore? More and more cities, counties, and entire states are banning indoor smoking. People everywhere are getting the message: smoking causes disease and death. In fact, it is the number one preventable cause of death in this country. NIDA scientists have shown how incredibly addictive smoking is, especially when people start in their teens—which most that do, get addicted. So protect your health and avoid the hassle and...don't start. It's a no-brainer.
If you need more reasons not to smoke besides smelly clothes and yellow teeth, here you go:
- Your wallet. How can you afford that new video game if you're burning cash on cigarettes?
- Your athletic ability. Smokers run slower and can't run as far, like being old before you're old.
- Your state of mind. It takes just 8 seconds for nicotine from cigarettes to reach your brain and change the way it works. Although scientists aren't totally sure why yet, one study found that teens who smoke a lot are 15 times more likely to have panic attacks than teens who don't smoke. Teen smokers also are more likely to have anxiety disorders and depression.
- Your future. Quitting smoking is hard. But the health consequences are even harder to deal with.
If you or any of your friends smoke, know help is out there. For free quitting support, call 1–800–QUIT–NOW (1–800–784–8669).
For anyone who resolves to stop smoking, help is as close as your cell phone.
According to NIDA’s 2011 Monitoring the Future survey results, teen smoking rates are currently at their lowest since the survey began in 1975. However, many teens continue to take up the habit—19 percent of 12th-graders reported past-month cigarette use.
By now, we all know that smoking has negative health effects. These include lung and heart disease and particularly cancer—since cigarettes contain chemicals that are carcinogenic, or cancer-causing. However, when it comes to quitting, the main problem is nicotine. Nicotine is addictive and makes quitting notoriously hard.
To help teens quit, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently launched SmokefreeTXT, a free text-to-quit service that sends text messages with encouragement, advice, and tips directly to teens’ cell phones.
How It Works
Sign up at www.teen.smokefree.gov or text “QUIT” to “iQUIT” (47848) and provide the date you smoked last. After that, you’ll receive text messages for up to 6 weeks. Research shows that support for quitting continues to be important beyond the first few weeks.
The text-to-quit campaign is just one feature of a broader effort to encourage teens to quit smoking. NCI’s new Smokefree Teen Web site features information, quizzes, comics, and other resources to help teens understand the decisions they make and to take control of their health.
Smokefree Teen also offers a free smartphone app, QuitSTART—an interactive guide that provides mood management tips, tracks cravings, and monitors quit attempts.
You can find Smokefree Teen on several social media pages to connect other teens with tools to help them quit.Think about “liking” Smokefree Teen on Facebook, even if you don’t smoke, to show support for your friends or family who are trying to quit.
Is 2012 the year of texting for healthy living? Let us know if you think campaigns like these can help you stay committed to your resolutions.
Cigarette smoking among American teenagers dropped to a record low in 2012. But are teens turning to a new alternative known as “e-cigarettes”?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals as vapor that a user inhales, without producing actual tobacco smoke. Some people assume e-cigs are healthier than traditional cigarettes.
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the use of e-cigs has doubled since 2011, raising the percentage of high school students who have tried them to 10%.
Why Are Teens Trying E-Cigs?
- Advertising: Traditional cigarette TV ads have been banned since 1970, but most e-cigs are not regulated by the FDA. Because of this, they do not fall under the same advertising and marketing rules, so tobacco companies have been buying TV ad time to push e-cigs.
- Flavors: The lack of FDA regulation has allowed tobacco companies to sell flavored e-cig products such as Bora Bora, with “pronounced notes of Exotic Island spice,” and Iced Berry, which claims to offer “immediate, irresistible refreshment.” These and other exotic flavors can sound very appealing to the younger crowd.
- Selling to Teens: While more than 20 states have banned store sales to minors, e-cigs can still be bought online. Make no mistake about it—the tobacco companies want your money!
Aren’t E-Cigs Better Than Traditional Cigarettes?
We don’t know. Some companies advertise e-cigs as a way to lower nicotine cravings while causing less harm than traditional tobacco products, and some people claim e-cigs help them quit smoking. But there’s no actual evidence yet to support this claim.
The FDA has found that e-cigs might be safer than regular cigarettes because they do not release tar, carbon monoxide, and other poisons found in cigarettes. However, e-cigs still release carcinogens and other toxic chemicals, whose long-term effects are unknown.
What if you inhale the vapor of a few of these things every day—what will that do to your body over time? We just don’t know—do you want to be a guinea pig?
What’s in the Future for E-Cigs?
The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products may start regulating the sale of e-cigs. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act has given the FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products, and it will soon be decided if this includes the vaporized form of nicotine used in e-cigs.
For more information on electronic cigarettes, watch this NIDA TV Spotlight.
For information on safely quitting tobacco, see these smoking cessation products.
Comment on this post and tell us what you think: Do you know anyone who uses e-cigs?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (known by most people as the "FDA") has banned cigarettes with flavors that make them taste like fruit, candy, or clove. Which reminds me…real candy and fruit are soooo much better…but this ban does raise some questions—so, in case you were wondering:
Who is smoking flavored cigarettes? Studies show that 17-year-olds who smoke are three times more likely to use flavored cigarettes as smokers over 25. In fact, some people think cigarette companies add the flavors as a way to get teens to try smoking. The FDA says young people are twice as likely to report seeing advertising for these flavored products, so the cigarette companies are obviously putting the ads in places that are popular with teens. (Hmmm, pretty sneaky).
Why ban the flavored cigarettes? 3,600 young people start smoking each day, and almost all adult smokers (90 percent) started smoking as teenagers. If the idea of flavors encourages kids to smoke, many of them will keep smoking and face a lifelong battle with nicotine addiction (hardly worth it).
Do the flavors make the cigarettes any safer? No way! They are just as toxic as ever. In fact, the flavors might hide some of the bad taste of cigarettes, so in a way they are more dangerous.
How will they enforce this ban? The FDA encourages people to report continuing sales of flavored cigarettes through a special tobacco hotline (1-877-CTP-1373) and website. You can learn more about the risks of flavored tobacco products at www.fda.gov. Might even make a great report for health or science class!
What does SBB think about flavored cigarettes? The companies that make these flavored cigarettes think they are pretty smart, trying to make money off of teens who think "candy, fruit and clove" sound like fun. However, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.*
So don't be "tricked" into smoking by the lure of flavored cigarettes.
When you hear that something comes in strawberry, ice cream, chocolate, peach, or grape flavors, your first thoughts may be: ice cream, candy, or something made for kids. After all, manufacturers of kids’ toothpastes, medicines, and vitamins add fun flavors to make their products more appealing. You may also think that flavored products are harmless, like candy.
But if you think flavored mini cigars are harmless, you’re mistaken.
Cigars of any kind, including flavored mini cigars, contain the same addictive and cancer-causing qualities as regular cigarettes. In fact, cigar tobacco has a high concentration of nitrogen compounds, some of the strongest cancer-causing substances known. Cigar smoking also is linked to gum disease and tooth loss.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has banned similar flavored cigarettes, there’s no such ban (yet) on mini cigars. Unfortunately, more and more teens across the country are smoking mini cigars.
In some states, like Maryland, statistics show that 14% of teens smoke cigars—this mirrors the rate of cigarette smoking among teens.
But Maryland isn’t ignoring the issue. Recently, the state launched a new campaign called The Cigar Trap to let teens discover the truth about these flavored brown sticks that you might see behind the checkout counter, near the candy bars and gum.
Find out more about mini cigars, including how you can tell your friends the facts behind the flavors.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.
In November 2013, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill hoping to change this frightening statistic for future generations. Nicknamed the “Tobacco 21 Bill,” it raises the legal age for buying tobacco products—including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and cigars—in NYC from age 18 to 21.
This will be one of the strictest limits on tobacco purchases in any major city in the United States, sending a healthy message, trying to delay young people’s access to tobacco, and reducing long-term addiction.
Here are some facts from a report of the U.S. Surgeon General:
- Nearly 9 out of 10 people who smoke started by age 18.
- The younger people are when they start using tobacco, the more likely it is they’ll become addicted.
- Almost 1 in 4 high school seniors smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Despite those facts, some people don’t like the Tobacco 21 Bill, saying that it takes away a person’s ability to make his or her own choices.
Age 18 is the legal age when the majority of rights—such as driving, voting, and fighting for your country—are granted. Some people argue that having control of your health and body is another right. Others argue that people who smoke under the legal age will simply find ways around the law.
But smoking is horrible for you, right? Cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, the number-one cancer killer of both men and women. Why would anyone argue against a law that will probably save lives?
Regardless of the controversy, however, raising the legal age for buying tobacco products seems to be a trend coming to a city near you! Several towns in Massachusetts have already banned tobacco sales to those under age 21 and similar legislation has been introduced in Washington, DC, as well.
By the way, today’s teens are smarter than ever about not smoking cigarettes. In 1997, nearly 25% of 12th graders smoked every day; now that number is less than 10%. But how do we keep that last 10% from even starting, so they can lead healthier lives?
What do you think, should the legal age for buying tobacco be raised to 21 everywhere?
What we know about drug abuse evolves over time. This is true for smoking and tobacco addiction, too. We know much more now than we did 100, 40, or even 10 years ago. As we learn more about tobacco, smoking, and health, we continue to do more to prevent illness and death caused by tobacco.
Did you know there was a time when people didn't know that smoking cigarettes could be deadly? A long time ago, doctors even recommended that people smoke to cure other illnesses-check out the old advertisement below:
Looks pretty silly now. Today, no doctor who has gone to medical school would recommend smoking to their patients. Just the opposite: doctors, nurses, and teens like you are telling people not to smoke. Why? Because smoking "causes lung cancer heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy"—and it says so right on the box! Every cigarette carton in the United States is required to warn against the health effects of smoking.
Different warnings appear on different cigarette packaging. While traveling in Europe recently, one of our bloggers snapped a picture of some cigarette cartons, each with its own saying. One of them said: "Smokers die younger." That's what you call truth in advertising. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, smoking causes more deaths each year than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined! Check out more info for youth on CDC's website.
Here at NIDA, we know and understand what smoking looked like then and now. But, what gets us excited is applying what we've learned about tobacco and nicotine to help improve people's lives in the future. So, stay tuned to the Sara Bellum Blog—you never know what we, or one of your classmates, might discover.
Middle and high school teens have many choices when it comes to extracurricular activities. Some will choose a team sport like basketball, volleyball, football, or softball, while others may choose more individual-type sports like track, golf, tennis, or swimming.
Either way, being an athlete can be a positive experience—it teaches the importance of cooperation and practice, and how to win and lose gracefully—and it helps keep your body healthy. A recent study reports it may also influence decisions about using drugs like cigarettes, marijuana, or alcohol—but the news is not all good.
The good news is that researchers found that students who participate in team sports or exercise regularly report much less cigarette smoking than students not involved in sports. Also, fewer student athletes used marijuana.
The bad news is that the same study showed the reverse when it comes to drinking alcohol—that student athletes were much more likely to drink alcohol than non-athletes. This may be because team sports often involve alcohol—while watching the event or celebrating afterwards. That’s why beer companies are major sponsors of pro sports teams.
Drugs and Alcohol Can Slow You Down
By now, most of us know that smoking cigarettes affects athletes’ abilities in several ways, causing problems with breathing and endurance, for example. And marijuana can compromise your balance, perception, and memory, making it hard to be physically or mentally at your best in competition.
Bottom line: Your body and brain may not respond the way you need them to after you use drugs or drink alcohol.
Knowing the Facts Leads to Winning Choices
Whether you play sports or not, making healthy choices is up to you. So think about this: Are you more likely to drink or smoke if your friends do? How does being part of a team or group influence you?
It's that time of year again-time to announce the results of NIDA's annual Monitoring the Future survey. For the 34th year, researchers went into classrooms all over the country and asked young people to fill out surveys about their drug use. This year 46,097 8th, 10th and 12th graders participated—that's a lot of teens! As the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this is one of my favorite times of the year because we hold a big news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to let the public know what the researchers learned. Here's the news this year, good and bad.
The good news is that methamphetamine use is at its lowest since the survey started tracking it 10 years ago. At that time, 4.7% of teens said they had tried meth in the previous month, but this year, just 1.2% said they had used it. Teens are also smoking cigarettes less than they used to. About 1 in 10 high school seniors say they smoke every day, compared to 4 in 10 in 1999. This drop translates to longer, healthier lives for today's teens.
But of course the survey also shows some not-so-good things. So while cigarette smoking is down, it looks as if more kids are chewing tobacco. Believe it or not, more than 6% of 10th graders say they use smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco products contain many toxins, as well as high levels of nicotine (3-4 times more than cigarettes), which makes them addictive. Not to mention what it does to your teeth and breath. Here are some more facts.
Also, too many teens are still abusing prescription drugs, which is not good. Unless a medicine is prescribed for you and you take it the way your doctor tells you to, prescription pills can be as dangerous as street drugs. In fact, more people are dying from accidental overdoses of prescription drugs than from cocaine and heroin combined. We have done some blogs about this in the past.
And for the first time, NIDA's Monitoring the Future survey asked 12th graders about their use of salvia, an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America—5.7% of high school seniors had abused it in the past year. People who abuse salvia typically experience hallucinations or episodes that resemble a type of mental illness known as psychosis (sigh-ko-sis), which can really be scary.
For more information on this year's survey results, go to the NIDA home page and click on the "Monitoring the Future" link.
This is a guest post from the Director of NIDA, Dr. Nora Volkow.
According to the Surgeon General’s report on smoking and young people, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes.
In March 2012, the Surgeon General launched a video contest encouraging teens to develop videos around the facts in the tobacco report. SBB announced the contest, and now we want to share the winners.
Grand Prize Winner (Ages 13–17 Category): “Tobacco—I’m Not Buying It Rap”
The Manatee Youth for Christ SOZO team from Bradenton, Florida, raps about the dangers of smoking and why some teenagers start smoking, emphasizing with the chorus, “Tobacco OH NO I Ain’t Buying It.”
Grand Prize Winner (Ages 18–25 Category): “You Don’t Smoke Cigarettes, Cigarettes Smoke You”
Ayyaz Amjad’s video features a young man who realizes that people who smoke may not be as in control as they might think.
Grand Prize Winner (Spanish Category): “El Tabaco y la industria”
A narrator describes the dangers of smoking as her friends hold up signs with selected facts on them. The video was created by Sarah Skipper, Karolina Almasi, Taylor Crews, Natalie Curtis, and Malorie McKinnon.
Check out all the winning videos, including the runners-up.
What do you think of the videos? Do their messages inspire you to make your own video or to think differently about smoking?
As the 1-year anniversary of the signing of the Tobacco Control Act approaches, new rules that let the Government regulate tobacco products are going into effect. Starting on June 22, cigarette packs may no longer use labels that say "light," "low" and "mild." This is because research shows that “light” cigarettes are no safer than regular ones. Also, tobacco companies will no longer be allowed to sponsor cultural and sporting events, distribute logo clothing, give away free samples or sell cigarettes in packages of less than 20—what’s known as "kiddy packs."
Another new law will prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 18, and vending machine sales of tobacco products will be banned except in adults-only places. We did an earlier blog about the ban on candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products, but these new laws will go even further.
This is great news for the public health and for teens, since tobacco products still account for 20 percent of all deaths in the United States each year, and tobacco companies keep trying to recruit new smokers. Every day 1,000 children become addicted to tobacco, and almost 4,000 try their first cigarette, according to John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, who says the tobacco industry spends $34 million every day to try and hook new young smokers.
So, show the tobacco companies you can think for yourself. Smoking is very addictive, so the best advice is (yeah, you’ve heard it before): Don’t start!
Who will be this year’s “Mr. October”? The onset of the playoffs has SBB thinking about all things baseball—home runs, hot dogs, and strikeouts. Another common image: baseball players chewing and spitting smokeless tobacco.
But that image might be fading. For the 2012 season, Major League Baseball (MLB) banned players, managers, and coaches from carrying smokeless tobacco tins or packages whenever fans are in the park.
They also aren’t supposed to use smokeless tobacco during televised interviews, team-sponsored appearances, autograph signings, and other events where fans are present—and can even be reported for violating these rules.
“Chew” and Baseball: A Long History
Since the mid-1800s, smokeless tobacco—called dip, chew, and snuff—has often been used in baseball. Players chewed the stuff to keep their mouths moist on dusty fields, and they spit it into their mitts to keep them flexible. In the 1920s, many players switched to cigarettes, until the 1970s, when people realized how harmful smoking is. After that, smokeless tobacco made a comeback.
However, smokeless tobacco is just as habit-forming, damaging, and downright gross as inhaling 7,000+ chemicals into your lungs. In fact, the amount of nicotine absorbed from smokeless tobacco is 3 to 4 times greater than what a cigarette delivers.
Smokeless tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth, tongue, cheeks, gums, esophagus, and pancreas; mouth sores; and gum disease and gum recession (when the gum pulls away from the teeth).
Not only that, but spitting out tobacco juice is disgusting.
Despite these consequences, baseball players continue to use smokeless tobacco. It’s so common, in fact, that the chewing gum Big League Chew is made to look just like it and the packaging features a cartoon baseball player. Talk about sending the wrong message!
In 2011, Washington Nationals pitching great Stephen Strasburg made the personal choice to quit using smokeless tobacco. We hope that MLB’s restrictions will help other players make the healthy choice to put the snuff aside!