SOURCE: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University
October 23, 2007 10:00 ET
New CASA* Report: Teen Cigarette Smoking Linked to Brain Damage, Alcohol and Illegal Drug Abuse, Mental Illness
Teen Cigarette Smokers Likelier to Meet Medical Criteria for Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Dependence
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - October 23, 2007) - The nicotine in tobacco products poses a
significant danger of structural and chemical changes in developing brains
that can make teens more vulnerable to alcohol and other drug addiction and
to mental illness, according to Tobacco: The Smoking Gun, a new white paper
released today by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
(CASA) at Columbia University and commissioned by The Citizens' Commission
to Protect the Truth, a group of all former U.S. Secretaries of Health,
Education, and Welfare and of Health and Human Services, all former U.S.
Surgeons General, and all former Directors of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
The Commission asked CASA to assemble the scientific evidence of the impact
of nicotine on the adolescent brain, conduct original analyses of data from
the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on the relationship
between teen smoking, alcohol and illegal drug abuse and addiction and
mental health, and issue a report on its findings.
CASA's original analysis of data from the NSDUH finds that teens who smoke
are nine times likelier to meet the medical criteria for past year alcohol
abuse or dependence and 13 times likelier to meet the medical criteria for
abuse and dependence on an illegal drug than teens who don't smoke.
"These findings sound an alarm for parents, teachers, pediatricians and
others responsible for children's health that smoking by teens may well
signal the fire of alcohol and other drug abuse and mental illnesses such
as depression and anxiety disorders," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr.,
chairman and president of CASA and speaking on behalf of The Citizens'
Commission as its chairman. "We have known for a long time that smoking
causes deadly and crippling cancers and cardiovascular and respiratory
diseases. Now we see the devastating effects that nicotine can have on the
developing brains of our children and teens."
Smoking and Alcohol and Illegal Drug Use
Compared to 12- to 17-year-olds who don't smoke, those who do are more than
five times likelier to drink and 13 times likelier to use marijuana than
Compared to those who never smoked, those who began smoking at age 12 or
-- More than three times likelier to binge drink;
-- Nearly 15 times likelier to smoke marijuana; and
-- Nearly seven times likelier to use other illegal drugs such as heroin
Smoking and Mental Health Disorders
The CASA analysis also found that among teens ages 12 to 17, twice as many
smokers as nonsmokers suffered from symptoms of depression in the past
year. Teens who reported early initiation of smoking were more likely to
experience serious feelings of hopelessness, depression and worthlessness
in the past year.
The report also notes that smoking at a young age is related to panic
attacks, general anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We have long known that nicotine is extraordinarily addictive and that
youth can become addicted extremely quickly," said Cheryl G. Healton,
Dr.P.H., president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. "This new
report underscores what we know about the developing brains of teens who
are highly vulnerable to personal, social and media influences to begin
smoking and why it is so vital to reach them with information about tobacco
before they start to smoke. Because 80 percent of smokers begin before age
18, when their young brains and bodies are so susceptible to the effects of
nicotine, it is imperative that we stop what for so many will result in
lost years and lives to tobacco addiction, disease and death."
Based on the findings of the white paper, CASA and the Commission
-- Sharply restricting all tobacco advertising, marketing and promotion.
-- Stepping up evidence-based prevention and cessation efforts, including
-- Giving the FDA comprehensive authority to regulate tobacco.
-- Mandating evidence-based tobacco cessation in substance abuse
treatment and mental health care settings.
-- Enforcing laws restricting sale of tobacco to minors and enacting
indoor and outdoor clean air laws to limit children's exposure to second-
"The public health case against tobacco for hiking the chances of damaging
our children's developing brains in ways that can increase their risk of
alcohol and other drug abuse and mental illness is clear," noted Califano,
who started the national anti-smoking campaign in 1978. "The time has come
to curb cigarette advertisements and promotions by the nicotine pushers and
step up campaigns like the American Legacy Foundation's truth® effort to
protect our nation's children."
The Citizens' Commission to Protect the Truth, a group of all former U.S.
Secretaries of Health, Education, and Welfare and of Health and Human
Services, all former U.S. Surgeons General, and all former Directors of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Republican and Democrat from
every Administration over the last forty years, was formed in March 2004 to
prevent youth from smoking. Among its efforts, the Commission shines a
spotlight on the continued need to fund truth®, the only independent
national youth counter-marketing campaign with demonstrated results in
keeping children and teens from smoking. For more information on the
Commission, visit its Web site at www.ProtectTheTruth.org.
CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof
all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of
substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA has issued 66
reports and white papers, published one book, conducted demonstration
projects focused on children, families and schools at 204 sites in 76
cities and counties in 30 states plus Washington, DC and two Native
American tribal reservations, and has been evaluating the effectiveness of
drug and alcohol treatment in a variety of programs and drug courts. CASA
is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day -- A Day to Eat
Dinner with Your Children™ -- the fourth Monday in September -- the 22nd
in 2008 -- that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way
to reduce children's risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. In
May of 2007, CASA Chairman Joseph A. Califano, Jr. called for a fundamental
shift in the nation's attitude about substance abuse and addiction with the
publication of his book, "HIGH SOCIETY: How Substance Abuse Ravages America
and What to Do About It." For more information visit www.casacolumbia.org.
*The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia
University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court
Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its
member organizations, or any other organizations with the name of "CASA."