Because nicotine is both dangerous and addictive, physicians have been reluctant to use it in young children to help them quit smoking. It has not been studied in children younger than 16 — leading to the interesting irony that 12 and 13-year olds who smoke have a far easier time obtaining cigarettes than the treatment that might enable them to quit.
The Cancer Research Campaign in Britain is embarking on a placebo trial of interested children smokers as young as twelve, giving half of them a nicotine patch, half a placebo patch, and all of them psychological counseling to help them quit.
I am excited about this step to address the treatment needs of addicted young teens — who are in perhaps the key years of smoking. Most adults who smoke began as young teens. We know the patch is very effective in helping addicted older teens and adults. Let’s learn the best ways to help young teens stop!