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Join the movement! You can play an active part in achieving the first tobacco-free generation by adopting a no-tobacco […]

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Unmask the Murderer of the Century! Register your group of teens for an activity meant to guess the identity of the murderer of the century and the weapon used to commit the crime.

What? Using hints and compelling staging, teens are invited to identify the murderer of the century and the traps that […]

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You’ll often hear smokers say: “It’s my choice to smoke”. And yet, as the following information shows, that’s not the case at all. Also, if you look at the « Tobacco Industry » and « Why Teens Smoke » sections, you’ll see that even though people think they “choose” to try cigarettes or other tobacco products, in fact they’re influenced, led and manipulated to a large extent by other people.

Who’s in the driver’s seat: you or nicotine?

Smoking isn’t a habit or even a vice (morals have nothing to do with it!). It’s an addiction — and an insidious one at that. It takes different forms, develops faster than you might think, and causes nothing but problems.

The physical addiction is probably the one you’re most familiar with, since it transforms you into a kind nicotine slave. Your body becomes used to the drug and demands regular doses.

However, there’s another kind of addiction, psychological addiction, which develops every time you take a puff! When you inhale, the nicotine in the smoke generates a feeling of pleasure in your brain, so you associate smoking with enjoyment — and just like a laboratory animal, you keep asking for more!

Whether you’re having fun or bored out of your mind, your cigarette is always there to make you feel good. You learn to live your life with a kind of crutch instead of developing your own capacity to experience pleasure, sadness, stress or boredom. And because your sense of well-being is created artificially, you’ll find it increasingly expensive, in terms of both money and health, to feel good.

The longer you wait to get rid of your cigarettes, the stronger your addiction will be. Take the following test to find out just how addicted you are to nicotine!

Nicotine Addiction Test

The purpose of the Hooked On Nicotine Checklist (HONC) is to show you how much tobacco controls your life. It was designed to detect addiction among teens.

Yes = 1 No = 0

1. Have you ever tried to quit but couldn’t?
2. Do you smoke now because it’s really hard to quit?
3. Have you ever felt like you were addicted to tobacco?
4. Do you ever have strong cravings to smoke?
5. Have you ever felt like you really needed a cigarette?
6. Is it hard to keep from smoking in places where you’re not supposed to (e.g. school, restaurant, movie theatre, etc.)?

When you try to quit smoking, or when you can’t smoke for a while:

7. Do you find it hard to concentrate?
8. Do you feel more irritable?
9. Do you feel a strong need or urge to smoke?
10. Do you feel nervous, restless or anxious?

TOTAL =   / 10

Interpreting the results:

  • If you answered “yes” to just one of these questions, it means you’re starting to be hooked on tobacco.
  • The more “yes” answers you have, the more addicted you are.
  • A score of 7 or more indicates a strong addiction.

The nicotine contained in tobacco is a drug that’s just as powerful as heroin or cocaine

Nicotine occurs NATURALLY in tobacco. Tobacco is the only plant in the world that contains significant amounts of nicotine, and this is especially true since the tobacco industry altered some strains of the plant to increase its nicotine content (as others did for THC in marihuana).

Nicotine is a formidable drug because it creeps up on you quietly, and then takes control, both physically and psychologically:

  • It produces a feeling of pleasure in your brain without disturbing your behaviour or perceptions. You don’t get “high”, you don’t burst out laughing for no reason, and you don’t stare fixedly into space or see little pink elephants. In fact, you seem quite normal — at least, on the surface.
  • Just like the hard drugs, however, nicotine causes habituation. In other words, you always need a little bit more to obtain the same effect. Nicotine also causes very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit smoking; this is physical addiction.
  • The withdrawal symptoms caused by nicotine aren’t as bad as those caused by heroin or cocaine. But the addiction it causes is just as strong. Why? Because nicotine also produces a strong psychological addiction that reinforces the physical addiction.
  • If you start smoking in your teens, then you’ve chosen a very bad time to introduce nicotine into your brain. During the teenage years, your brain undergoes an intense period of transformation and is particularly sensitive to substances that affect how it functions. In fact, there’s a danger that you’ll be marked for life; for example, you may have a tendency to become depressed, or find it hard to deal with stress.

When you smoke, you’re creating a big problem

When you do something you enjoy, or when something nice happens to you, your brain produces endorphins. These are substances that make you feel good. Your brain automatically produces them when:

  • You practise a sport, and especially when you win or score;
  • You play or listen to music;
  • You do something you’re proud of;
  • You have fun with your friends;
  • You receive a compliment or congratulations;
  • You get good marks at school;
  • You laugh;
  • You fall in love; and so on.

All these experiences are enjoyable to you because of the endorphins that your brain produces naturally and free of charge. That’s why you keep doing them.

But if you smoke, you create a problem. Every time you inhale, nicotine enters your brain within ten seconds, and immediately produces endorphins. So by smoking, you’re conditioning your brain to produce these substances in response to nicotine rather than in response to something you’ve done for yourself!

In other words, in future you’ll have to pay money out of your own pocket for something you used to get for free. And you’ll be dependent on nicotine to feel good. It’s no joke, is it?

Nicotine causes a strong psychological addiction, as well as a physical addiction

With every cigarette, you take an average of 10 to 12 drags (or puffs). In other words, at least ten times per cigarette you’re absorbing a drug that makes you feel good. Multiply that by the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day, and it becomes almost frightening!

Still not convinced? Let’s look how many times each day and each year you (or your smoker friends) depend on nicotine to feel good:

  • For two cigarettes or less per day (which is what half of all high school smokers consume), this gives around 20 puffs per day, or 7,300 puffs per year;
  • For 11 cigarettes or more per day (which is what 11% of high school smokers consume), this gives around 110 puffs per day, or 40,150 puffs per year;
  • And for a regular smoker who consumes an average of 15 cigarettes per day, this gives 150 nicotine hits per day, for a grand total of 54,750 per year!

Just think…

Your brain (or your friend’s brain) makes a positive connection between each drag on the cigarette and whatever you’re doing at the time the nicotine is absorbed. You might be stressed out, angry, joyful or sad, but your brain wants just one thing: to experience the moment in the company of its best friend, the cigarette. And just like that, cigarettes have become an essential part of your well-being.

When you smoke, you’re programming your brain to connect cigarettes with everything you do and everything that happens to you. That’s why it’s so hard to kick the tobacco addiction. So the sooner you decide to quit smoking, the less “programmed” you will be.

Do you realize now that you’re wasting your money? Are you convinced that you want to quit smoking? If so, have a look at some tricks of the trade that will help you to do this.

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