Teens Crave Cigarettes Too

Smoking cessation for teens should take withdrawal symptoms into account

(RxWiki News) Most smokers start before they turn 18. It’s important to get teenagers to quit smoking, but they feel craving for tobacco just like adults. Treatment plans must account for that.

A recent study tested withdrawal symptoms of smoking teenagers after they didn’t smoke for a while.

Results found that teenagers feel the effects of not smoking much like adults do.

"Help your teenager quit smoking today."

L. Cinnamon Bidwell, PhD, assistant professor, and Suzanne Colby, PhD, associate professor, in psychiatry and human behavior at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, led the investigation.

For this small study, 74 daily smokers and 22 nonsmoking controls, aged 13-19, were split into a smoking and non-smoking group.

Questionnaires and lab tests were used to gauge each of the participant’s withdrawal symptoms, irritability, cravings, reaction to smoking triggers and emotional state.

Each teenager was assessed at the beginning and then sent home. A total of 47 smokers were asked to abstain from smoking, while 27 smokers were allowed to continue, and then return for the same tests 1-4 days later.

The smokers had been smoking for an average of 2 years and smoked around nine cigarettes per day.

Those who were daily smokers at the beginning of the study did experience withdrawal symptoms, cravings and emotional withdrawal.

Compared to adult smokers in previous studies, these teens did not show signs of irritability and moodiness.

Dr. Bidwell said, “Adolescents are showing—even relatively early in the dependence process—significant, strong, negative effects just after acute abstinence from smoking.”

Dr. Colby said that when it came to cravings and emotional withdrawal, the teenagers looked remarkably similar to adult smokers.

“This is really interesting because they are smoking fewer cigarettes per day and they’ve just been smokers for a shorter period of time.”

Authors hope that their findings—teenagers do in fact experience withdrawal symptoms—will help shape smoking cessation treatments for teenagers in the future.

This study was published in September in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Cancer Institute, no conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
September 24, 2012