Kids Just Don't Get It!

Kids Just Don't Get It!

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

08 Oct 2003, 22:24 #1

Kids Just Don't Get It!

On the surface the above statement explains why kids are smoking at such an alarming rate. Here we have a product that is deadly, so deadly in fact it has been deemed the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Some, who don't die from it, will often still be impaired or crippled from cigarettes. Not only is it deadly, it is expensive. Kids taking up smoking today are likely going to end up with a product that will end up costing them tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetime. But still kids take it up in record numbers today. What is the only logical explanation from this tragedy?

Again, it must be kids don't get it. But don't be too quick to interpret my meaning of this phrase. Yes there are some kids that no matter what you teach them will not listen to any amount of reason. But this is not the majority of kids taking up smoking. When I say kids don't get it, I don't mean kids lack the common sense to make a rational decision about smoking. What they don't get is the real information in a manner that helps them understand the magnitude of the danger and the power of the addiction. Without this understanding, they are not equipped with the ammunition to overcome peer pressure, as well as tobacco promotion tactics by cigarette manufacturers.

When I try to offer programs to many local schools, free of charge mind you, I often get turned down for the reason that they can't take time out of the busy education schedule required in schools today. Besides this, the school officials often feel kids already are getting the facts about smoking in health classes and DARE presentations. This is all well and good, except the message delivered in these programs is often presented quickly and truly skimming the surface of the depth of the nicotine addiction. I know when I do a school for the first time, the kids are amazed at the stories I relate about the dangers of smoking and the strength of addiction. More important than this though, it almost never fails that the health teacher comes up to me and tells me that they never understood the magnitude of the problem.

Recently, when I was speaking at a conference where representatives from many health organizations were coming to find out how to possibly help get funding from tobacco settlement monies. The DARE officers represented came up to me afterwards shocked about how dangerous smoking actually was. It seems the people being relied on to pass the message don't understand the message themselves. And the people who should be responsible to educate the kids feel that the information is already out there for all to see because these people are already teaching it!

Kids can get it if it is given to them. It's not only a financial limitation that this material is not disseminated. It is a lack of resolve and commitment by the public that allows this to happen. Parents should be demanding this information for kids. PTA groups should be screaming to increase the educational component of smoking prevention. But unfortunately, most of them don't get it either. How often a parent reaction to their child smoking is, "Well at least they are not using drugs." There is so many problems faced by kids today such as drugs, and alcohol, and violence that smoking seems minor in comparison.

But what parents and other adults to understand is that smoking is going to kill more kids than all the other problems combined. The kid has picked up an addiction that is likely going to kill them. What do I mean by likely? Well for ever thousand 20 year olds who smoke today and don't quit, 6 of them will eventually die prematurely from being murdered (violence), 12 will eventually die prematurely from accidents, and 500 will die from smoking! But at least they are not using drugs. When a parent says this or thinks this, understand, they don't get it either. They never did learn the full extent of the nicotine addiction when they were kids.

You made the comment that you would have given up your toe for the girl back when you were a kid. Think about it though, do you really think you would have given up your toe. If I was there with a chainsaw and made a promise that I would guarantee a date with the girl if you let me lop off your toe, do you think you would have taken it? Probably not, and this analogy is not as farfetched as it may sound on the surface. There are people who end up losing toes, fingers, feet, hands, legs, and arms from smoking. They are often given the choice to quit smoking or lost the limb, but they really don't have a choice. They are addicts who lost control. Kids need to understand the extent of that control before they are smoking. Not that it just smells bad, not that it makes your teeth yellow, not that it is just "bad" for you. They think lots of things are bad for them. But tobacco is in a league by itself. When more kids get this information in its full non-diluted strength, more kids will have the ammunition to say no.

Peer pressure is a real phenomenon. Just telling kids not to give into it is not enough. Give them the reason not to give into it. Give them the full unadulterated message of the deadly and addictive nature of nicotine. Give them a reason to say no and they will likely do it. Lets make sure kids do get it and I think we will see a turn around in current trends.

Originally from the string Joel's Library - Frightening Trends in Teenage Smoking
Last edited by Joel on 03 Nov 2009, 11:20, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

08 Oct 2003, 22:46 #2

Focus on helping smoking- addicted teens quit
Op/ed USA Today - October 8, 2003
By Patricia Pearson
My grandfather, a gregarious, life-loving and witty man, died before I was born as a result of smoking two packs of Lucky cigarettes a day.
By the time I was 17, there was nothing an anti-tobacco advertisement could have told me that I did not already know from that tragic family experience.

Nevertheless, I already was smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

As state legislatures across the USA slash their anti-tobacco-program funds in response to serious budget crunches, it is Image worth considering whether that automatically calls for protests from anti-smoking organizations, or whether it is an opportunity to reconsider how to direct resources more effectively into the teen smoking wars.

An intriguing study out this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine explains what I always suspected, that exhorting teens to "just say no" to cigarettes is most effective with that small group of kids who never try smoking.

The reason surprise is that nicotine is powerfully addictive. To wit, the McGill University study reports that some adolescents show symptoms of addiction to nicotine after smoking only one or two cigarettes; in particular: physical cravings. That suggests that nicotine itself is a more decisive factor in teens starting to smoke regularly than the influence of their peers.

"This is important news because it challenges the current idea that it takes kids two to three years of daily smoking to develop nicotine dependence," the study's author, Jennifer O'Loughlin, a researcher at McGill said at a Montreal news conference last month.

Vast sums of money have been spent in the past 15 years on a strategy of either shaming or frightening teenagers out of smoking, while a minuscule fraction of that amount has been allocated to actually help them quit. That needs to change, given the addictive nature of tobacco.

Oregon is the only state to provide comprehensive Medicaid insurance coverage for such essential smoking-cessation aids (news - web sites) as the anti-depressant Wellbutrin, the NicoDerm patch and addiction counseling.

Yet, consider that last July the American Legacy Foundation reported that while 65% of female smokers between ages 16 and 24 wanted to quit, only 3% succeeded for a given year. The foundation was set up with money won by the 46 state attorneys general who sued the big tobacco companies in 1998. The suits resulted in a massive court settlement that was meant to be earmarked for tobacco programs. In fact, initially many of the states used their portions of the settlement funds to pay down budget deficits and upgrade government buildings, among other projects, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some, however, poured cash into the coffers of ad agencies to design the anti-tobacco posters and TV and radio spots we've grown familiar with.

The American Legacy Foundation continues to maintain that anti-tobacco advertising is an essential ingredient in persuading Americans to quit smoking or not start at all. To that end, the foundation alone has plowed upward of $60 million into such media campaigns.

Likewise, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a national lobbying group based in Washington, adamantly insists that we keep beating the drums through advertising, community-awareness initiatives and in-school workshops.

While some research has shown that these ads and other programs are effective in some states in reducing smoking or keeping people from starting at all, there are the hard-core smokers, including teens, who need more than what they're getting.

Just look at the data. One in four students in 12th grade currently smoke cigarettes on at least a weekly basis in the United States, according to this year's annual Pride Survey, a Kentucky-based firm that tracks adolescent drug use. This notwithstanding years of anti-smoking censure. Indeed, the survey marks an increase in 12th-grade smoking rates since 1987, in terms of the number of kids who report having a cigarette "in the last year."

How many of these students are going to drift into a daily habit by the time they enter college? The ones who grow addicted and have no access to Wellbutrin, nicotine-replacement therapy and addiction counseling. That's how many. It is this core group for whom ads, alone, cannot work.

The one-in-four rate noted by the Pride Survey mirrors the number of people in the adult population who smoke regularly, and that percentage has remained rock steady since 1996, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) in Atlanta.

Believe me, these hard-core adult and teen smokers get the point. You don't have to show them a diseased lung or someone on a ventilator 80 times in the hopes that the 81st time they will notice. I have needed no further evidence than my grandfather's cancer to understand that smoking is bad for one's health. In fact, I still smoke.
What I could have used and what teenagers today can use is practical, hands-on help that extends well beyond the tepid, hopelessly ineffectual lists of "quitting tips" that pass nowadays for smoking-cessation programs.
Put the money where the addiction is. Teenagers already know what happened to the Marlboro Man.
They may not know that a combination of pharmaceuticals, NicoDerm and group therapy can give them a more positive fate.
Patricia Pearson is a freelance writer and author living in Toronto. She's also a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors.
Copyright © 2003 USA TODAY

A wonderful article and one of the very times I've seen any journalist question funding priorities. Although Patricia clearly has not had an opportunity to study and explore the efficacy behind her NRT recommendations, she's far from alone in that regard.
One thing I've come to recognize this past year is that the leadership at many national tobacco control organizations became involved as a result of anti-smoker crusades, as they battled for clean indoor air. To them smokers are the enemy.
I belong to two other organizations where any mention of spending additional funds to help those addicted to nicotine reclaim their freedom is met with almost immediate protest. They don't have a problem with fighting to help save children from getting hooked but once addicted they seem to tend to blame the children for not listening to the health warnings.
To spend money after the fact, to many of these well intended folks, is like giving aid and comfort to the enemy. It's in large part the same reason that lung cancer research gets so little attention and funding - they see it as our own fault for getting hooked in the first place and the natural price to be paid.
We need more journalists like Patricia, willing to dig into the meat of the problem. If we continue to refuse to teach our children the truth about the power of nicotine then what moral standing do we have to intentionally deny them meaningful assistance once enslaved? John

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

23 Oct 2003, 20:09 #3

Nicotine addiction from cigarette
smoking may begin in a few days
By Dr. George Johnson - On Science

Kids get addicted to cigarettes a lot quicker than we thought. Mayo Clinic researchers report this month that children who have smoked only a few cigarettes experience the same symptoms of nicotine addiction as adults who smoke heavily.
The researchers followed more than 600 12- and 13-year-olds Image from seven schools in central Massachusetts for a four year period. Even kids who only smoked a few cigarettes a week became strongly addicted. "This is particularly disturbing," adds lead study author Dr. Joseph DiFranza, "given that each day, over 4,800 teens smoke their first cigarette. That's 1.7 million children annually."
The chemical nature of nicotine addiction is a tragedy but not a mystery. Scientists understand nicotine addiction quite well. The key experiment that led to our understanding was a simple one: Investigators introduced radioactively-labelled nicotine into the brain and looked to see where it went. They found that individual nicotine molecules attached themselves to a previously unknown protein on the surface of brain nerve cells!
These so-called "nicotine receptors" usually bind a natural brain chemical, acetylcholine. It was just an accident of nature that nicotine, an obscure chemical from a tobacco plant, was also able to bind to them. What then is the normal function of the nicotine receptors?
Each activity in the brain involves constant communication between nerve cells. One nerve cell communicates with another by throwing a chemical at it. The target cells have on their surface receptor proteins, each with a shape that "fits" that chemical signal and no other. Like playing catch, communicating nerve cells lob these signal chemicals back and forth.
Different brain cells carrying out different activities often use different chemical signals. The signals include chemicals such as acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, glycine, and a host of others.
With all this signalling going on, the brain cannot function effectively without a way to coordinate its many activities -- to adjust a particular activity "UP" or "DOWN" relative to others. The brain does this in a direct and logical way, by adjusting the sensitivities of each of its many different kinds of receptors to their chemical signals.
The tool it uses to do this is a central coordinating receptor -- the very one to which nicotine binds. The role of this receptor is to "fine tune" the sensitivity of a wide variety of other brain receptors to their chemical signals, adjusting particular kinds of receptors up or down to slow some activities, speed others, and in this way to achieve overall coordination of the brain's activities.
So how does nicotine cause chemical addiction? When neurobiologists compare the brain nerve cells of smokers to those of nonsmokers, they find that nicotine binds this coordinating receptor, stimulating it. By overriding the normal system used by the brain to coordinate its many activities, nicotine alters the pattern of release by nerve cells of many neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, and many others -- like turning up the setting on a TV remote that controls many television sets. As a result, changes in level of activity occur in a wide variety of nerve pathways within the brain. These changes are responsible for the profound effect smoking has on the brain's activities.
Addiction occurs because the nervous system responds piecemeal to nicotine's fiddling with its central control. The brain attempts to "turn the volume back down" by readjusting the sensitivities of each kind of receptor individually, eventually restoring an appropriate balance of activity. Unfortunately, in many children these readjustments apparently occur after only a few cigarettes.
Now what happens if you stop smoking? Everything is out of whack! The newly coordinated system requires nicotine to achieve an appropriate balance of nerve pathway activities. You are addicted to nicotine.
So what do you do, if you are addicted to smoking cigarettes and you want to stop? The CDC reported in July that 8 million people tried to quit smoking in 1998, the latest data available. About half the people attempting to quit smoking use patches containing nicotine to help them, and another quarter chew nicotine gum. Providing nicotine removes the craving for cigarettes -- so long as you keep using the patch or gum. Actually, using nicotine patches or gum simply substitutes one (admittedly less dangerous) nicotine source for another. You are still addicted.
If you are going to quit smoking, there is no way to avoid the necessity of eliminating the drug to which you are addicted, nicotine. Hard as it is to hear the bad news, there is no easy way out. The only way to quit is to quit. Every teen should consider carefully the take-home lesson, which is that addiction to nicotine is not a matter of will power, but chemistry. "These kids will take about 20 years on average to break this addiction," DiFranza warns. How much easier not to smoke the first cigarette.
© Txtwriter Inc. All rights reserved.

Although I think Dr. Johnson's data may have been a bit off in estimating of those using gradual nicotine weaning devices he's cleary on the mark in pointing out that in the end all successful quitters there's only one way to break free and that's by "eliminating the drug to which you are addicted, nicotine."

Dr. Johnson's article also provides an interesting explanation of what addiction to nicotine really means. Recent studies are moving beyond explaining nicotine dependency in terms of just dopamine manipulation and are studying a host of our brain neurotransmitters and neurochemicals that this amazing substance appears to have the ability to manipulate.

Nicotine dependency recovery truly is an amazing discovery adventure in just how deeply nicotine impacted not only our health and physicial abilities but the well-being of our minds.

This journey leads to a well earned rest after years of endless chemical cycling. It leads to simple recognitions such as appreciating that nicotine is no longer feeding us via adrenaline induced releases of stored fats and sugars and that we might just need to learn to eat like normal folks again - including adding natural fruits like bananas and apples back into our diet, and even some dairy products, as they wonderful natural sources of basic nutrients which are key to the creation of many important neurochemicals.

Let the healing continue! Just one rule, no nicotine today. John

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

17 Nov 2003, 00:27 #4

There is a post I just put into the thread Joel's Library - Why I don't speak at more sites or events that seems to make bringing up this thread appropriate.
Last edited by Joel on 03 Nov 2009, 11:23, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

28 Nov 2003, 22:10 #5

There are some people out there who are trying to make sure that kids do get it. See Lung Cancer, Stage 4
Last edited by Joel on 03 Nov 2009, 11:25, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

17 Jan 2004, 21:58 #6

We have a number of younger members joining up at Freedom. I sometimes wonder if our older members think that if they were young now and had all of the information and insight about smoking that young people have available now if they then think that they would never have taken up smoking. While it is true that there is a greater understanding to the dangers of smoking today it is also true that many young people are not getting that information in a credible or effective manner--not really understanding the concept of the addiction until it is too late and they are addicted. I thought this string would shed a little insight on this problem.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

18 Jan 2004, 03:24 #7

This is a very interesting topic. I am 22 now and I started smoking when I was 14 years old, a freshman in high school.
Now this was not a situation where I took as cigarette as an experiment thinking it'd be just that once or only once in a while. I had the full, deliberate intention of becoming a full-fledged smoker. I started smoking with the full intention of becoming addicted to cigarettes.
Want to hear something really disturbing? I was thrilled to the bone the first time I had a physical cigarette craving. (We called them "nic-fits".) I remember: I was sitting in class, and I felt a peculiar tickle in my throat and an indescribably subtle sort of clamping feeling in my brain. What's that feeling? Suddenly I realized that smoking a cigarette would make that feeling go away. Hooray! I was a real smoker! I was addicted!

It just absolutely turns my stomach to write about this now. I hadn't thought about that moment in years; maybe not since it happened. Why did I think in this way? What kind of incredibly screwed-up moral landscape must I have had to not only deliberately become a drug addict but to feel genuinely happy when they addiction really started taking hold?

It's a good question and I think that to understand the answer it's important to think back to our teenaged years. Experiences vary widely; however, most people's adolescence is characterized by sullenness, recalcitrance, rapidly shifting self-images, and an intense desire to win favor with one's peers and most pertinently to thwart adult authority figures. I do not think that there is anything inherently bad about this state of mind--sure it's tough and in the end very self-defeating, but it's a necessary step in the blossoming into sentience (sp?) for most people.

I say that the desire to flout authority is "most pertinent" for a reason: I think that this is responsible for a lot of kids starting smoking. I know it was a major, major factor in my personal decision.
I was a very sullen, depressed teen girl, cursed with a prohibitively large vocabulary and very few social skills. I was angry. I felt cheated. By whom, and out of what? Who knows. But I had the vague yet firmly held conviction that my parents and especially the teachers and administrators at my school were deeply responsible for this dissatisfaction. This is not totally unreasonable; the faculty at my school were in fact largely ignorant and reprehensibly tyrannical and seemed to enjoy making things difficult for teens. So what could I do? The opposite of whatever they wanted me to do, that's what!!!! "Don't drink. Don't smoke. Don't do drugs." You can bet that I did all of these things as much as I could. There were other reasons--it was fun, it gave me sort of a common ground with a lot of my peers--but I remember vividly feeling that the best part of it all was being a "bad kid".

It's important to understand the dynamics of this sort of thing, particularly if you're going to try and talk to teenagers about substance use and abuse. Most health educators make the tremendous mistake of trying to convince kids that it's "not cool" to do these things. "It's not cool. It won't make you popular. It won't make you feel good." This is a disastrous tack to take. What these people need to understand is that in the eyes of many if not most teens, whatever they endorse, in almost any category, will be immediately branded as dorky and undesirable. That's just how it works. Besides, telling people that these things will not make them feel good is a bald-faced lie. They most certainly will, at first. I loved smoking when I was young. So having told one obvious lie, everything else that the educator has said also becomes suspect--including legitimate information about how awful these things are.

So the upshot of this long-winded diatribe is that I think that if one wants to make a difference with teens, and actually convince a large number of them that they should not start smoking cigarettes, one must do so with straight unadulterated information. No opinions about what is or is not cool or fun. No "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts". Just: smoking makes you die. Horribly and painfully. And in the meantime it makes you a pathetic addict with an incredibly low quality of life. Pictures like the ones on I am certain that this is the approach that Joel takes when he talks to high-schoolers and that it is infinitely more successful than the transparent propaganda that I was offered in high school.

I don't blame anyone for guiding me towards the decision to smoke. That was a decision that I and I alone made. Yet I feel that I might not have felt this perverse desire to start had not the adults around me been so incredibly clueless about how to educate teens in such a way that they will actually listen.
Teenagers aren't stupid but they are naive and misguided. It's a shame that so many of them turn to smoking as a way to express all the bitterness and fresh young cynicism that they feel during this confusing and painful time of emotional and social upheaval. I hope greatly that this trend is dealt with; I was foresighted enough to quit but a lot of those kids who started smoking when I did are still smoking and will smoke until it kills them. Thoughtfulness and a little strategic psychology on the part of educators goes a long, long way. Like I said I'll bet Joel does a great job with these teens.


Sal GOLD.ffn
Joined: 16 Jan 2003, 08:00

18 Jan 2004, 03:52 #8


Here's a post for you: Scare tactics

So the upshot of this long-winded diatribe is that I think that if one wants to make a difference with teens, and actually convince a large number of them that they should not start smoking cigarettes, one must do so with straight unadulterated information. No opinions about what is or is not cool or fun. No "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts". Just: smoking makes you die. Horribly and painfully. And in the meantime it makes you a pathetic addict with an incredibly low quality of life.

Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Never take another puff.


Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

18 Jan 2004, 04:03 #9

Great thread. Same point about discredited info that I was making Thanks Sal! --Erica

And thanks also, so very much, for helping me yesterday. I'm feeling better now.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

13 Feb 2004, 03:07 #10

This seemed like a good article to attach here: Smokeless Tobacco - Gruen Von Behrens' Missing Jaw. Again, most of the time kids don't get it but at times there are people delivering the messages that are needed to help increase the odds that some kids will find out even before they start using the importance of avoiding all sources of nicotine, and, as far as for inhaling burning tobacco products, of knowing early on to never take another puff.
Last edited by Joel on 03 Nov 2009, 11:27, edited 2 times in total.