Blunt talk about nicotine addiction and the brain keeps Pleasant Hill middle schoolers spellbound

September 27, 2011
Contra Costa Times — By Theresa Harrington

PLEASANT HILL — Most boys thought it was “awesome.” Some girls said it was “kind of gross.”

But they all agreed they wouldn’t soon forget seeing the real, nicotine-damaged brains of a man and a monkey.

“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said 12-year-old Jonathan Bayle, of Pittsburg, after watching a presentation about tobacco addiction and the teenage brain at Sequoia Middle School. “I really think that everyone should see this.”

Parents and students in the Mt. Diablo school district are hearing firsthand this week how the tobacco industry tried to cover up research showing how nicotine affects the brain, making addicts crave it.

Scientist Victor DeNoble, a former Philip Morris researcher who blew the whistle on nicotine addition in 1994, is making the rounds at district middle and high schools, displaying slides of rats and showing students two brains he analyzed after nicotine-related deaths.

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