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Cigarette Smoking as Drug Addiction

April 29, 1990

Your feature on the attractions of cigarette smoking for girls and young women left out an important factor that affects young people of both sexes: cigarette smoking as drug addiction ("Under Fire: Women and Smoking, April 17).

The discussion in my ninth-grade English class recently came around to smoking. I asked who in the class smoked or knew other teen-agers who did.

To my horror, most of the students raised their hands.

"Why would anyone even start?" I asked.

Collective shrug. Finally, one girl said, "It gives you a lift."

Not "Everybody does it." Not "It makes you look cool." It gives you a lift. Nicotine, a toxic drug, is a central nervous system stimulant that may be more immediately addictive than cocaine.

ELLEN JAFFE McCLAIN

West Hollywood

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