Narrator: This is Science Today. Because tobacco-related disease is still a leading cause of death among women, the Surgeon General recently called for stronger, nationwide measures to discourage women and girls from smoking. These measures include reducing cigarette advertisements and promotion. Epidemiologist John Weincke of the University of California, San Francisco, suggests age should be a factor to consider in future anti-smoking campaigns.
Weincke: Our evidence strongly indicates that if a person starts smoking very early in life, before adolescence, the damage that accumulates persists much longer than if a person starts smoking, say, when they're twenty years or so. It may actually take many years for it to clear out of the lungs and of course, once mutations are induced, theoretically, they're around forever.
Narrator: Many of the lung cancer patients Weincke studied began smoking before the age of ten.
Weincke: People that start smoking very early in life tend to smoke more cigarettes per day and they tend to be heavier smokers, so there's this confounding with age and how much you smoke.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.