Yale doctor dedicates research on nicotine addiction to her father who died of lung cancer

Dr. Marina Picciotto urges parents to teach their kids about the deadly dangers and consequences of nicotine usage.

Frank Recchia and Robyn Karashik

Apr 13, 2024, 10:17 PM

Updated 35 days ago


A Yale School of Medicine doctor and professor says U.S. sales of nicotine pouches are blowing the vape market out of the water.
"Nicotine addiction is one of our real successes in biomedical research,” said Dr. Marina Picciotto, a professor of psychiatry, neuroscience and pharmacology at Yale University.
Picciotto has dedicated much of her career to the field of nicotine addiction and treatment. Part of her inspiration for specializing in it stems from her father’s battle with smoking and lung cancer.
"My own father started smoking when he was 13 years old. He tried to quit many times across his life. One time when he quit, he was really successful, he had very stressful life experiences, went right back to smoking.” said Picciotto. “So I knew about that connection between stress and smoking and unfortunately he passed away from lung cancer."
She hopes parents will teach their kids to stay away from smoking, vaping and other forms of nicotine usage.
"It is an addictive substance. It's not a bad habit, it's not something that just anybody can stop doing because they have willpower,” said Picciotto.
Picciotto explained that adolescence is an especially vulnerable time for addictions to form because of the rapid growth inside our brains.
"All of the circuits that say, 'Stop, don't do something risky', haven't been put in place yet…that's the time when people who start using addictive substances like nicotine are most vulnerable,” said Picciotto.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal has also been very involved in nicotine prevention amongst Connecticut youth. He has found Picciotto's research, along with that of her colleagues at Yale, will help give him the leverage he needs to either regulate or ban the production of new nicotine products. He is looking specifically at pouches, which can be extremely appealing to young people due to the easy application and accessibility.
"Marina's story is so inspiring because it comes from her heart,” said Blumenthal. “[Her] monumentally important research at Yale will help me persuade the Food and Drug Administration to take action against these nicotine pouches."
"If you don't start during your adolescence, you're very unlikely to start using nicotine and tobacco products. It's much less likely that you'll take it up later in life,” said Picciotto.
Blumenthal said he'll be formally recognizing Picciotto and her colleagues at Yale in June for their contributions to public health and medical science.

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