The proportion of teenagers and young adults who smoke cigarettes daily has declined in the United States over the past 20 years, thanks in no small part to a public health campaign to discourage tobacco use. At the same time, however, nicotine addiction has widened its grip among those young people who do smoke, a new study finds.
Daily cigarette smokers aren't necessarily hooked on nicotine. But for people ages 24 and younger, the rate of addiction among regular cigarette smokers has increased even as the overall popularity of smoking has dropped, reports a team led by psychologist Naomi Breslau of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
"There is reason to worry about these findings," Breslau says. "Nicotine dependence makes it much harder for a person to quit smoking cigarettes."
Her investigation, published in the September Archives of General Psychiatry and based on data collected in 1992, provides the first national data on nicotine-dependence rates.