The Power of Nicotine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yesterday that, based on the results of the 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 73 percent of teen smokers with a "daily" habit (self-reported smoking of at least 1 cigarette a day for 30 days) had tried to quit smoking. But only 13.5 percent were successfully stopped. [Source: MMWR (May 22, 1998)]

Michael Eriksen, director of CDC's said in an Associated Press report that "That's strictly a testimony to the power of nicotine. We were really struck by how this little drama of tobacco addiction really is completely played out before high school graduation."

It's too bad Eriksen wasn't "struck" by some honesty.

The CDC report says that 70.2 percent of teens have tried smoking, even one or two puffs. But only 35.8 percent of these teens went on to become "daily" smokers. That means that 64.2 percent of kids who try smoking reject it. Overall, almost 75 percent of teens never start smoking or reject it after trying. Some power.

Eriksen goes on to say that "[Teens start] to smoke because they want an image, they want to make a statement, they get seduced by the advertising..."

So apparently nicotine is not why teens start smoking. Who's to say that the reason many teens don't stop smoking is because they're addicted to an image?

Certainly not the CDC research.

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