Causation, Correlation, Nicotine, Alcohol & Pot.
The report by Columbia University's National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse presented further evidence linking youth smoking to other substance abuse and spotlighted research on how nicotine affects the adolescent brain.
A poverty of reason.
"Teenage smoking can signal the fire of alcohol and drug abuse or mental illness like depression and anxiety," Joseph Califano, who heads the centre and is a former US health secretary, said in a telephone interview.
The report analysed surveys conducted by the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other data on youth smokers. Most smokers begin smoking before age 18.
Smokers aged 12 to 17 were more likely drink alcohol than nonsmokers - 59 per cent compared to 11 per cent, the report found. Those who become regular smokers by age 12 are more than three times more likely to report binge drinking than those who never smoked - 31 per cent compared to nine per cent.
Binge drinking was defined as having five drinks or more in a row.
Asked whether smoking is causing these other behaviours or is just another risky behaviour occurring alongside the others, Califano said, "There's no question that early teenage smoking is linked to these other things. Now whether it's causing it or not, I think the jury is probably still out on that."
Smokers ages 12 to 17 are more apt to meet the diagnostic definition for drug abuse or dependence in the previous year - 26 per cent compared to two per cent, the researchers said.
The report noted that marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among teenagers, with government data from 2005 showing seven per cent of those aged 12 to 17 used marijuana.
Of these, current cigarette smokers are 13 times more likely to use marijuana than those who do not smoke.
The younger a child starts smoking, the greater the risk, the Columbia team said.
Children who start smoking by age 12 are more than three times more likely to binge on alcohol, nearly 15 times more likely to smoke marijuana and almost seven times more likely to use other drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Teenagers who smoke also have a higher risk of depression and anxiety disorders, the study found.
The report cited scientific studies showing the nicotine in tobacco products can produce structural and chemical changes in the developing brain that make young people vulnerable to alcohol and other drug addiction and mental illness.
This includes effects on the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin and changes to brain receptors associated with an increased desire for other addictive drugs.
Columbia University's National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse have identified that naughty kids do naughty things.... (see MRC: Medical Rearch Council - News Antisocial behaviour in kids key to alcohol trouble in teens )
Like protecting the 'vulnerable' is the American way! Balderdash.
When we [NZ included] arrest someone for pot, we turn an otherwise normal person into a 'victim' purportedly to save them from themselves.
This study is evidence 'pot laws' protect and arguably, promote early entry into the 'harmful', albeit legal drug markets.
Worse, it avoids discussing the social ecology, the set and setting of poverty along with the toxic laws that create both the opportunity/incentive for early entry and rejection of social values/alienation and any subsequent 'deviancy amplification'.
If pot wasn't illegal, rather controlled by legal regulation, these kids would in all likelihood come to little or no harm. Isn't that the desired 'harm minimising' outcome here?.
Consider; If ALL youth smoked pot and didn't binge drink or inhale nicotine, the 'life time' prognosis would be entirely different.
As I have said on many occasions, prohibition couldn't promote pot use to kids more efficiently than if pot was made compulsory.
The best advertising to prevent youth uptake would be to say cannabis is really good for rheumatism and other (over 50) age related stuff. It would turn them right off!
A bit of intellectual honesty is the 'cure'. /Blair