Study Sheds Light on Teen Smoking Addiction

A compilation of five years of animal and other studies concludes that teenagers may be more susceptible to the rewarding effects of smoking than adults.

The report, “Closing the Gap on Youth Tobacco Use,” analyzed the findings from animal, human, and policy studies conducted by the University of California at Irvine’s Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, as well as findings from Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Southern California University, and the University of Wisconsin.

The review identified specific factors that promote tobacco use and addiction among adolescents, including age, changes in the brain from nicotine (which was found to occur in the brains of adolescent rats after one exposure), and failure to feel the negative effects of nicotine as strongly as adults.

“The knowledge gained from working together will help us increase our understanding of how young people can become vulnerable to tobacco and the factors that contribute to tobacco dependence,” said Frances Leslie, director of the UC research center and a professor of pharmacology. “We hope that ultimately, our shared research will be applied to tobacco-prevention efforts.”