CSKT Tobacco prevention program highlights youth addiction
By Lailani Upham
Two Teeth, CSKT Tobacco Prevention Program advocate holds up a pack of
pink cigarettes. Tobacco companies have been developing products that
appeal to young people so they will experiment with tobacco use, she
said. According to the Montana Tobacco Prevention Program, tobacco
companies and new competitors to the nicotine addiction market focus on
youth to keep their business going. (Lailani Upham photo)
PABLO — Studies have shown that younger people become addicted to
nicotine quicker than older folks and the tobacco companies know this
and targeted the younger generation to keep their business going,
regardless of the serious health risks, according to Montana and the
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Tobacco Prevention Programs.
Victor DeNoble, Ph.D., former research scientist for Philip
Morris, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, was a guest speaker on behalf of
the CSKT and Montana Tobacco Prevention Program at SKC on Monday to
speak to local health officials.
DeNoble discussed the addictive nature of nicotine and the
tobacco industry's attempt to hide important health information from
the public. Dr. DeNoble has been touring the state with his message,
"Inside the Darkside: an insider's look at the truth about tobacco
addiction and what the tobacco companies don't want you to know."
DeNoble and a co-worker Paul Mele worked in a secret lab in
Virginia for Philip Morris from 1980 to 1984, where DeNoble led
experiments on rats to explore the effects of nicotine on the brain and
central nervous system, he said. He revealed how the lab developed a
synthetic chemical that had the same desired effects as nicotine on the
brain without the health risks. His job was to develop a "safer
What could have been a triumph for Philip Morris instead
backfired. "The industry realized if it made that cigarette, it would
be admitting to the government that it was lying when it said there's
nothing wrong with smoking," DeNoble said.
In 1984 Philip Morris shut down the lab, hid the findings and
fired DeNoble and Mele, for fear that if a healthier cigarette was
produced, the tobacco industry, which had long denied the negative
effects of nicotine, would be subject to lawsuits. DeNoble said they
were both silenced by a secrecy agreement, but a decade later seven
tobacco executives were brought to congressional hearings and through a
process of the FBI findings, DeNoble and Mele were released from the
agreement and testified.
Victor De Noble, a scientist for over 30 years tells his story of being
hired by the tobacco industry decades ago to create a safer
environment. In his findings he discovered how nicotine affects the
brain. The tobacco company did not want to hear it and he was fired and
his lab immediately closed down, he shared. (Lailani Upham photo)
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and
Health Promotion, younger people who begin smoking are more likely to
become addicted and suffer the same nicotine withdrawal symptoms as
adults who try to quit. Several studies found nicotine to be addictive
in ways similar to heroin, cocaine and alcohol. The study proved that
of all addictive behaviors, cigarette smoking is the one most likely to
become established during adolescence.
The Montana Tobacco Prevention Program and CSKT Tobacco
Prevention Program are both working toward efforts to curb new teen
addiction through a statewide youth coalition, called "ReAct." It is a
Montana's teen-led movement against tobacco corporation tactics. The
local coalition is called the "Mission Valley ReAct Youth Coalition,"
according to Two Teeth.
Montana youth are using spit tobacco at alarming rates, which
are amongst the highest in the nation, according to both prevention
programs. Due to its use over 430,000 Americans die each year. If all
of those names were placed on a monument, it would equal seven Vietnam
memorial walls. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of
death, the program reports.
DeNoble stressed how tobacco companies have a strong money
incentive to create addicts. Statistics show that someone who is
addicted will be for 35 to 40 years of their life and will spend
between $50,000 to $100,000 to buy tobacco products.
According to a report from the National Survey on Drug Use and
Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, children and teenagers constitute the majority of all
new smokers, and the industry's advertising and promotion campaigns
often have special appeal to these young people; and 83 percent of
young smokers choose the three most heavily advertised brands.
CSKT Tribal Health Tobacco Prevention Program is offering free
options to tribal health recipients to help kick the addiction. Call
Cristen Two Teeth at (406) 745-3525 ext. 5119 for more information.
The Montana Tobacco Quit Line is also available to help tobacco
users fight their addiction through a free service that provides
coaching, educational materials, health care providers' medications
available at a reduced cost and trained staff that offer culturally
appropriate services for Native Americans to understand the sacred use
The Montana Tobacco Quit Line is staffed Monday - Thursday, 7
am - 9 pm; Fridays from 7 am - 7 pm; and Saturday - Sunday from 8 am -
4:30 pm. There is a 24-hour voicemail and a call will be returned
quickly. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.