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Teen Smokers Find It Tough to Quit

Research program examines benefits of smoking-cessation programs

Taking the first puff of a cigarette is easy, but deciding you're going to take your last one is difficult.

That's a lesson being learned the hard way by many teens who are struggling with an addiction to nicotine that's costing them money, harming their health and preventing them from participating in healthy pursuits like track and other school athletics, according to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Most people start smoking between ages 12 and 14, and about 30 percent of all high school girls and boys smoke. While it is easy for impressionable kids to start smoking, most wise up pretty quickly. About 70 percent of adolescents wish they'd never started. But, by then, it's too late.

Once addicted, it usually takes intensive counseling and smoking-cessation programs to get teens to stop smoking. Telling them that smoking is bad for them usually doesn't work.

A new program offered by the Milwaukee Adolescent Health Program is examining the effectiveness of intense smoking-cessation programs for teens. The program includes counseling sessions and nicotine-replacement therapy for one group of students. Teens in a separate control group are receiving brief counseling sessions but aren't offered the nicotine-replacement therapy.

But the health experts conducting the study are clear that the best thing for kids to do is to not start smoking in the first place. "They're going to die early. They're being manipulated by the tobacco industry, thinking [smoking] is a wonderful, glamorous thing to do, not thinking about the consequences down the road," says Tammy Sims, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, part of the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

To find out more about how tobacco companies supposedly market and advertise to children, you can read this report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. For tips on how to quit, you can read this from the Foundation for a Smokefree America.

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