Reuters reported on October 23, 2007, on a report issued by CASA, the Columbia University's National Center on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, which got its data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), that shows that cigarettes are indeed the gateway drug for alcolescent abuse of alcohol and marijuana. Here is a snippet of the Reuter's report:
Teenagers who smoke are five times more likely to drink and 13 times more likely to use marijuana than those who do not smoke, according to a report issued on Tuesday.
The report by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse presented further evidence linking youth smoking to other substance abuse and spotlighted research on how nicotine affects the adolescent brain.
"Teenage smoking can signal the fire of alcohol and drug abuse or mental illness, like depression and anxiety," Joseph Califano, who heads the center and is a former U.S. health secretary, said in a telephone interview.
The report analyzed surveys conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other data on youth smokers. Most smokers begin smoking before age 18.
Smokers ages 12 to 17 are more likely drink alcohol than nonsmokers -- 59 percent compared to 11 percent, the report found. Those who become regular smokers by age 12 are more than three times more likely to report binge drinking than those who never smoked -- 31 percent compared to 9 percent.