*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
The earlier youngsters start using nicotine -- even in the form of e-cigarettes -- the harder it is for them to quit a habit that could last a lifetime.
So says a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the leading organization representing pediatricians in the United States.
"Given the difficulty that adolescents have attempting to stop smoking and use of tobacco products, the need for prevention efforts to stop them from starting is extremely important," report author Dr. Lorena Siqueira said in an AAP news release.
The AAP's statement follows a Dec. 8, 2016 report from the U.S. Surgeon General's office, which noted that e-cigarette use rose 900 percent among U.S. high school students between 2011 and 2015. By 2014, more high school kids were using e-cigarettes than traditional smoked cigarettes, the Surgeon General said.
Some people claim that e-cigarettes may be a healthier "bridge" to quitting tobacco cigarettes. But the AAP contends that this has never been proven, and research suggests the devices encourage, rather than discourage, tobacco use.
Nicotine addiction at a very young age may up the odds for smoking well into adulthood, the pediatricians' group says.
According to prior research, about two-thirds of children who smoke in 6th grade will become regular adult smokers, compared to 46 percent of those who start smoking in 11th grade.
According to the recent report, 90 percent of tobacco-dependent adults started smoking before age 18.
For teens, even infrequent smoking greatly increases the risk of addiction. One study found that teens who smoked only monthly had a tenfold increased risk of tobacco addiction.
And quitting is just as tough, or tougher, for kids as it is for adults. The AAP notes that about 4 percent of youngsters who try to quit nicotine will succeed, compared to 5 percent of adults who try to quit. Children and teens also make more attempts to quit before succeeding, the report said.
The rapidly developing brains of children and teens are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction, the AAP added.