Smoking : Teens have a hard time giving up cigarettes

Many Canadian teens that smoke attempt quit, but find it too difficult and don't succeed, a new study says.
Researchers from the Université de Montreal studied more than 300 teen smokers and found that while 70 per cent wanted to quit, only 19 per cent were able to butt out for a period of 12 months or more.

The study found that most teens want to quit smoking within one to two months of having their first cigarette. However, less than two years after that initial puff, they have lost the confidence that they can quit for good.

The researchers asked 319 Montreal teens to complete reports on their smoking habits every three months for five years. The youths were either 12 or 13 when the study began.

The researchers found that the teens proceed through different stages as they attempt to kick the habit:
  • Within a few months of picking up smoking, they confidently declare their intentions to quit.
  • They proceed to having a conscious desire to quit while realizing the effort it will take. 
  • They lose confidence in their ability to quit as they experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 
  • After one year, they are daily smokers and find quitting very difficult. 
  • After two years of daily smoking, the teens are addicted to tobacco.
According to the 2006 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, about 15 per cent of Canadian teens between the ages of 15 and 19 are smokers.

In this study, the teens became daily smokers 23 months after their first cigarette.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.