By Chrissie Cole, InjuryBoard

Second-hand smoking is not only harmful, but it sets a bad example for children. If that isn't warning enough, a Montreal study shows second-hand smoke can lead to nicotine addiction in children.

"Increased exposure to second-hand smoke, both in homes and in cars, was linked with an increased likelihood of children reporting nicotine addiction - even though, these kids had never actually smoked a cigarette," said senior study author, Jennifer O'Loughlin, M Sc, PhD, an epidemiologist at Universite de Montreal.

The study, published in the September issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors, involved nine Canadian institutions and elaborates on earlier research that found second-hand smoke (SHS) in non-smokers and withdrawal symptoms which include anxiety, depression and trouble concentrating.

Five percent of 1,488 children who had never smoked, but were exposed to SHS reported symptoms of nicotine addiction.

The stigma and blame associated with this deadly disease and the small number of people that survive the fight, have made lung cancer the least funded of all major cancers.

It has been previously documented that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke pick up a cigarette earlier than other children, said O'Loughlin, who in an earlier study, outlined the stepping stones to tobacco addiction, showing it can take just one puff of a cigarette to turn a teenager into a smoker.

Mathieu Belanger, lead investigator and and director of the Centre de Formation Medicale du Nouveau Brunswick was shocked to find evidence of nicotine dependence in children as young as 10, even though they had never smoked.

But he was not surprised to find it was related to second-hand smoke.

Researchers were unable to make a direct association between cause and effect.

Another study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in the U.S. found tobacco companies deliberately manipulated menthol levels in cigarettes depending on whom they marketed them to.

Tobacco companies used lower levels of menthol to hook young smokers who preferred a milder brand, while using higher levels of menthol to hook lifelong adult smokers, according to the study.

Menthol masks the harsh taste of cigarettes, leaving the first-time smoker with a milder, more pleasant experience.

Death of an American Icon

On September 26, 2008 Paul Newman, an icon of American stage and film, loved by audiences around the world died of lung cancer.

Reports began to surface two months ago that the actor was undergoing lung cancer treatment. Several of those reports referred to him as a "former chain smoker."

An estimated 215,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and the majority will die within 12 months. Lung cancer claims more lives each year than all major cancers combined including breast and colon cancer.

Nearly half of them are former smokers whom quit decades ago while never realizing they will always be at increased risk of developing lung cancer. Another 15 percent have never smoked a cigarette at all.

The Lung Cancer Alliance, the only non-profit dedicated to patient support and advocacy for those living with or at risk for lung cancer, is committed to those who have died and to the families that have been affected by this devastating disease.

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