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Secondhand Smoke Exposure Can Cause Nicotine Addiction in Tweens

posted 12:17 AM EST, Wed June 15, 2011
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Children and tweens exposed to secondhand smoke absorb more nicotine out of that smoke than adults do – so much, in fact, that researchers out of Montreal Canada say that some children living with smokers, who had never before smoked cigarettes, were showing signs of nicotine addiction.

Researchers at Concordia University and the University of Montreal studied 327 6th and 7th grade students enrolled at public schools within the province of Quebec.

These students were asked about their exposure to second hand smoke and asked about their beliefs and perceptions about smoking in general. Additionally, saliva samples were taken to measure byproducts of nicotine in the systems of these children who had never before smoked cigarettes.


  • Children who were more exposed to more smokers were more likely to hold positive views about the benefits of smoking
  • Some of the tweens (who had never smoked) who had been exposed to regular secondhand smoke, described experiencing symptoms of nicotine dependence, such as craving cigarettes and finding it tough to go for long periods without exposure to smoke

Lead study author, Simon Racicot, of the Concordia University Department of Psychology explained the significance of the study findings, stating, “To our knowledge, this is one of first studies to show how increased exposure to second-hand smoke leads to youth who’ve never smoked to report having symptoms of nicotine dependence,” and that “Preteens who were surrounded by more smokers believed that there are greater advantages to smoking. Therefore, smoking by parents, siblings, and friends increases risk factors for later smoking.”

The full study results can be read in the journal, Nicotine and Tobacco Research

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