Nearly 90% of all smokers begin smoking during adolescence and an estimated 3,000 adolescents start smoking every day. Because cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and illness in the United States and results in an estimated 400,000 deaths annually, it would be useful to understand factors that may lead boys and girls to smoke cigarettes. People report that they smoke to reduce stress, improve attention, relax, or to lose weight. It is now known that smokers are dependent on nicotine and that they smoke cigarettes to experience nicotine's various effects. Nicotine is a powerful drug that acts in the body and the brain. Nicotine also affects chemicals in the brain that influence mood, thoughts, behaviors, and organ function, including the heart. All of these effects of nicotine may influence why smokers continue to smoke, even though they are aware of the health consequences of smoking. Unfortunately, the effects of nicotine in adolescents and young adults are not well understood. Further, little is known about why adolescents start to or continue to smoke cigarettes.
One reason some adults may smoke is to help control anger and feelings of hostility. Research has shown that people who experience a lot of hostility and anger are at a greater risk for developing heart disease. In addition, it has been shown that hostility and anger are related to cigarette smoking. A major purpose of the present project is to examine the role of nicotine in influencing anger regulation and aggression in adolescents and young adults. This purpose is related to the TRDRP's goal to fund research that will help us understand factors that may influence why adolescents and young adults begin to smoke, continue to smoke, and start to smoke again after quitting. This study will investigate the effects of nicotine administration (through a nicotine patch and smoking) on various aspects of hostility and anger in young adults and adolescents. These aspects include mood (e.g., happiness, sadness, anxiety), heart function (e.g., heart rate), and behaviors (e.g., aggressive, impulse). This work examines the role that nicotine might play in making cigarette smoking rewarding for adolescent boys and girls. Specifically, the anger-reducing aspects of nicotine will be investigated in a controlled, experimental setting and in a natural setting. Study 1 will examine the effects of the nicotine patch (versus a no-drug patch) in a laboratory setting on mood, heart function, and behaviors in young (ages 18-25) men and women who differ their levels of hostility. Results from the this study will help identify factors that may play a role in why adolescents start to smoke, continue to smoke, and, consequently, how to help them quit. |