Kicking the habit gets a bit harder

Photo by Charlotte Cudd
While the increased levels of nicotine in cigarettes have shocked many smokers, the news isn’t likely to persuade them to give up the habit.

Health report finds that nicotine levels have risen 10 percent in six years

By Taylor H. Wilson

Flagler College senior Alyssa Larrabee has been smoking for nearly nine years as a “stress release.” She admits to having known all along that smoking can cause cancer and even news of rising levels of nicotine in cigarettes won’t cause her to quit.

But many Flagler College smokers have been stunned by a new study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that found the levels of nicotine per cigarette has risen 10 percent in the past six years and is making it harder for smokers to quit.

“Smoking is a powerful addiction,” said Massachusetts Department of Public Health Associate Commissioner Sally Fogerty. “Smokers often make multiple attempts to quit before they can successfully stop smoking. Increased nicotine yield may make it harder to quit, so smokers should be aware there are a variety of resources to help them.”

The study found that Marlboro, Newport, and Camel, “the three most popular brands chosen by young smokers, all delivered significantly more nicotine.”

Students who smoke light cigarettes thinking they were making a moderate health difference were equally shocked to find out that they are just as bad for them.

According to the study, there were significant increases in all types of cigarettes, including “full flavor,” “medium,” “light” or “ultra-light” cigarettes.

Flagler College student Jay Athey admits to being a social smoker and believes that the rising nicotine levels are unnecessary.

Athey and other Flagler smokers believe tobacco companies already have enough people addicted and are raising nicotine levels to gain capital.

Athey admits to smoking occasionally and doesn’t feel he’s addicted, but he feels for those who are addicted and who struggle with trying to quit.

“Tobacco companies don’t need to raise nicotine levels to get people addicted; they already have
plenty of people addicted,” Athey said.

The Massachusetts Department of Health said the heightened levels of nicotine that has appeared in cigarettes in recent years are making it harder to quit and easier to get hooked.

Lois Keithly, director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program said, “It is more difficult to quit when there is a higher amount of nicotine in the cigarette.”

Philip Morris, the largest tobacco company in the U.S., has challenged the study, saying that it does not include all of the available data and that variations in nicotine levels are not indicative of a “general trend up or down,” according to a company press release.

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