Is Smoking a Gateway Drug?

Is smoking a gateway drug? Parents who worry about their kids picking up a smoking habit may wonder about the answer to this question. Many drug and substance abuse researchers have asked is smoking a gateway drug for decades wondering if their is a link between smoking and drug use.

Is smoking a gateway drug? This topic has been highly debated between parents, educators, drug task force officials as well as drug and substance abuse researchers for decades. Some may believe that smoking is a gateway drug, however others do not see it as a big drug threat, although still dangerous and often deadly. 

In the United States each year there are more than 400,000 tobacco-related deaths and even more illnesses. A recent study from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has determined that cigarette smoking does increase a person's risk of doing illegal drugs. This study has since been published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases. 

Is Smoking a Gateway Drug?

The study followed the associations between smoking cigarettes and illegal drug usage. The researchers from the study sampled data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. This study provided comprehensive information about the use of these illicit drugs, alcohol as well as tobacco use among members of the United States ages 12 and over. The study ultimately collected information from over 17,809 respondents. For all of the age groups combined, those who smoke cigarettes are also more likely to be a drug user or to at least try illegal drugs. About 65.8 percent of participants who had ever smoked were also seven times more likely to have tried marijuana and cocaine. These same recipients were also 14 times more likely to have tried crack and 16 times more likely to have tried heroin. 

These numbers found in the study were even stronger when it came to teen smokers. For example, for teens ages 12 to 15 who smoke cigarettes were an astounding 44 times more likely to use crack. Overall, teens under the age of 15 were 80 percent more likely to also use illegal drugs if they were already currently smokers. Because 80 percent of adult smokers began smoking when they were teens, it is clear that the problem lies with smokers during their teen years. Being able to target smoking prevention efforts at teens is one of the best ways to stop smoking from continuing to be a problem as a gateway drug to more illegal drug use among both teens and adults. If teens understand the negative consequences of smoking and illegal drug use at a young age, this effort may help lower the teen smoking statistics of those Americans who continue to smoke cigarettes. It also may help with cutting down on the among of illegal drug users throughout the United States.

Smoking and Illegal Drug Prevention:

Prevention for drug use and smoking to help cut down on the fact that smoking can be considered a gateway drug is one of the best and most important topics parents can discuss with their children and teens. It is also important that teens also pay attention to the statistics, known effects of smoking and overall topics being discussed about smoking and drugs while in school. It is important for both parents and educators all strive to continue to teach children and teens the dangers about smoking and how it really is considered a gateway drug. While some may disagree and say that researchers are taking the definition of a gateway drug too far, the statistics don't lie. It is clear that more drug users started out by smoking cigarettes. Because both substances are so harmful to a person's health, and can even cause death in most situations, it is vital to know and understand the dangers of picking up the smoking habit. 


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