Letters: War against tobacco

'We have a youth health crisis.'

Editor, The News:

We have a youth health crisis. It is encouraging to see the efforts being taken to resolve this crisis, but discouraging to see that politicians and our society are not addressing the root cause of the addictions afflicting our youth today.

In a 2012 study of U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 who had ever used cocaine, the study found that 87.9 per cent had smoke cigarettes before using cocaine.

In a research article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Eric Kandel and Dr. Denise Kandel found evidence of a molecular basis for nicotine as a gateway drug

Research by Dr. Frances E. Jensen of the University of Pennsylvania published in her book The Teenage Brain finds that adolescents and young adults get addicted to every substance faster than adults and, once addicted, have much greater difficulty beating the addiction.

The developing brain of young adults is primed for learning, but also more prone to addictions.

In young adults and teenagers, their prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that provides good judgement and an awareness of long-term consequences – is still developing until age 25.

When you combine the studies above with the empirical evidence provided by Health Canada and the U.S. Surgeon General, that 90 per cent of current smokers start smoking before age 19 and 99 per cent before age 25, you can see the obvious connection between nicotine and the brain chemistry of young minds.

And yet our society generally believes we have won the war on tobacco. Clearly the evidence of nicotine acting as a gateway drug that primes young minds to further addiction is a call to action.

Hopefully, our politicians are listening and will enact further controls on tobacco controls as recommended above.

Art Van Pelt, director

Susan’s Battle

Maple Ridge


Maple Ridge News