I have heard that giving your kid a cigarette when they are very little and forcing them to smoke the whole thing will make them have a bad memory of the event and make them less likely to smoke in the future. I was suspicious. Later, I remember reading about a study that actually showed that giving your kid a cigarette young makes them much more likely to smoke in the future not less likely. (This was pretty long ago and I cannot find the study or the article.)

Is forcing your kid to smoke one cigarette young to make them not smoke in the future a myth, like I suspect, or is it actually shown to be effective?

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    Isn't the claim that you make a child smoke the whole pack if you catch them smoking?
    – Razie Mah
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 23:23
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    @RazieMah that must be a different claim, but i think the answer will bring insight to both.
    – Xitcod13
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 1:05
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    Wow, I really tried to find this, but I can't. Until age 21-25 exposure to an addictive substance is much more likely to cause addiction because the pleasure pathways can be more easily reprogrammed. Although, with one cigarette probably it increases smoking rates because the parents are smokers and it normalizes the behavior. That's a strong risk factor although the association is probably not causal. I don't see any way that its beneficial. Its also just bad parenting. You can convince a child not to touch the hot stove without touching it for instance.
    – Razie Mah
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 4:12
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    I seriously doubt a proper study actually exists on this, as it would be fairly unethical, so one would only have to rely on anecdotal evidence which would be less than useful.
    – nico
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 7:25
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    if you wish to know is it is a good idea then check parenting.SE Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


Do the unpleasing side effects of a cigarette out weigh the chemical response of pleasure induced from smoking?

A few important links stated by the research of the U.S. government. One statement tells us:

Research has shown how nicotine acts on the brain to produce a number of effects. Of primary importance to its addictive nature are findings that nicotine activates reward pathways—the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure. A key brain chemical involved in mediating the desire to consume drugs is the neurotransmitter dopamine, and research has shown that nicotine increases levels of dopamine in the reward circuits. This reaction is similar to that seen with other drugs of abuse and is thought to underlie the pleasurable sensations experienced by many smokers. For many tobacco users, long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction.

Knowing how the drug works, would you take the chance that a few seconds of coughing and hacking would counteract the chemical reaction?
Although they cite long-term brain change, in the drug world there is a reason the first one is usually free.

Are There Other Chemicals That May Contribute to Tobacco Addiction?

...Animal studies by NIDA-funded researchers have shown that acetaldehyde, another chemical found in tobacco smoke, dramatically increases the reinforcing properties of nicotine and may also contribute to tobacco addiction. The investigators further report that this effect is age-related: adolescent animals display far more sensitivity to this reinforcing effect, which suggests that the brains of adolescents may be more vulnerable to tobacco addiction.

http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco/nicotine-addictive

Study: Nicotine Addiction Can Be Immediate

Scientists have confirmed a suspicion held by some smokers but never proven: It could take just a few cigarettes to become addicted.

The scientists suggested there may be three types of smokers: Those who become addicted very quickly, those who get hooked gradually after more regular smoking and those who can smoke lightly or pick up and drop the habit without becoming addicted.

  • Faced with modern research 50 some years after that myth was propagated, it is counter-intuitive to think that exposing a child to such an addictive substance would prevent them from becoming a smoker when there are Adults unable to quit with out much difficulty if at all.
    – UhlBelk
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 21:38
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    This isn't a very convincing answer. There's little doubt that tobacco is addicting. The question is whether a strongly negative initial experience (with very low chance of addiction, because of no continuing availability) is enough to prevent children trying it when they are older (e.g. 14 or 15).
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 23:39
  • I added the bit from abcnews that nicotine addiction can be immediate. Lets consider the question about "strongly negative initial experience" Smoking is freaking nasty! It tastes and smells bad until your used to it and even after you are addicted it still tastes and smells bad but its effects over power the discomfort. Time quickly eases that negative experience and before too long it is forgotten to the point that a young adult would still be overpowered by peer pressure or advertising as with anyone else Not forced to smoke one as a child.
    – UhlBelk
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 7:57
  • You fall off a bike and get banged up, we quickly forget the pain and get right back on. Naturally there are exceptions with any fear based incentive and individual personality. If Nicotine addiction can be immediate and adolescent brains are more susceptible to the effects, then it tells us even one cigarette can hook a child. Logic then dictates that forcing a child to smoke one or even a pack runs a higher risk of addiction then just showing a picture of someone with a breathing tube stuck in their throat.
    – UhlBelk
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 8:11
  • "Logic then dictates" - we aren't big fans of informal logic here. It is often used by people who are wrong. Empirical data easily trumps it. Suggesting a child without access to cigarettes will get addicted is without much merit. Whether a picture is as effective as being forced to smoke a cigarette too young is the question being begged.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 17:02

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