Because tobacco is legal and heavily advertised, people often don't take it seriously as a drug.
Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that makes it addictive and habit forming. Nicotine, heroin, and cocaine have similar effects on the brain. Cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco – even nicotine gum and patches – all contain nicotine. Nicotine is a poison and it is harmful to your body.
If you are to consider just the outward physical effects of smoking this is typically what you would see. The overall effects on appearance include stains on teeth and don't forget the fingers. When someone smokes, particularly just after they had a cigarette, it is easy to identify the smokers by the odors in the hair and clothing. Sometimes burns in clothing occur during smoking, which can cause a fire. This is common enough that all of us can relate our own experiences to similar events. It is well known that smoking does diminish or extinguish your sense of smell and taste but it is not well known that smoking can cause premature wrinkles and gray hair.
Many of us link tobacco use with smoking, but tobacco can be consumed in smokeless form as well. Long before people smoked cigarettes, they chewed, dipped and spit tobacco. Today smokeless tobacco comes in two forms-- chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco may be shredded, pressed into cakes, or twisted into strands. Snuff comes in loose leaf form or pouches that look like tea bags. Smokeless tobacco is packaged for easy use. Addicted users can keep a "quid" of snuff or chewing tobacco in their mouths around the clock. Smokeless tobacco still poses some risks, such as the risk of oral cancer, including cancer of the tongue and mouth, the cardiovascular risks of higher blood pressure and vascular disease. Smokeless users tend to have higher levels of nicotine than those found in smokers. In the pure form, tobacco has a bitter taste. To enhance the flavor of their product, makers of smokeless tobacco added sugar and salt . Also in the mix are cancer causing nitrosamines and abrasives. Considering all these factors, the Surgeon General reported in 1986 that there is "no safe use" of smokeless tobacco. Therefore it can be concluded that choosing between smokeless tobacco and smoking cigarettes is like choosing between a rock and a hard place. There is no alternative but to quit.
When burning cigarettes, solid particles, gases, and liquids are emitted from the tobacco. Solid particles are the only visible particles; however, you can only 5-8% of it. There are 4000 different chemical compounds in cigarettes, 50 are known carcinogens, and the others are suspected mutagens. (Mutagens are capable of causing permanent, often harmful changes in genetic material of living cells.) Where do the chemicals come from? About half the compounds are found naturally in the green tobacco leaf and half are created by the chemical reaction when the tobacco is burned. Some chemicals are introduced during the curing process; other chemicals are added by manufacturers to impart a distinctive flavor or quality to their product.
Tobacco industry devotes $4 billion to advertising and promoting cigarettes every year. The tobacco industry increasingly relies on promotional activities, including sponsorship of sports events and public entertainment, outdoor billboards, point of purchase displays and recently the distribution of specialty items that appeal to youth. Cigarette advertisements replace words with images portraying the attractiveness and function of smoking by displaying images of youthful activities, independence, healthfulness, and adventure seeking.
Most smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 18. The young people who report that smoking serves a positive function or is potentially useful are at increased risk for smoking. The functions served are bonding with peers, being independent and mature, and having a positive social image. Did you know that the following famous people died from smoking:
Peer influences seem to be particularly potent in the early stages of tobacco use. The peer group may subsequently provide expectations, reinforcement, and cues for experimentation. Parental tobacco use does not appear to be as compelling a risk factor as peer use. Certainly socio-demographic, environmental, behavioral, and personal factors can encourage the onset of tobacco use, particularly among adolescents. The reason for smoking is that nicotine is a psychoactive drug. Nicotine has actions similar to cocaine and heroin in the same area of the brain. Depending on how much you smoke, nicotine can act as either a stimulant or sedative. Studies show that nicotine increases the activity of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that elicits pleasurable sensations. The first cigarette of the day is particularly rewarding, however throughout the day your nerves become desensitized to nicotine, therefore it becomes less pleasurable so you smoke more to get the reward. A tolerance to these effects develops very quickly and requires increasingly higher levels of nicotine.
The first cigarette! The single most important research findings are those who cheat and have a cigarette during the initial first two weeks of withdrawal, even with the patch, nearly guarantees smoking again in six months. Quitting smoking is a big let down without the nicotine rewards. A specific regiment for quitting smoking uses a unique antidepressant called Bupropion (Zyban), which appears to have a positive effect on dopamine, serotonin, and noepinephrine, which are chemicals in the brain related to nicotine addiction. The drug is taken twice a day for 5 days, with or without the patch. There are side effects such as gastrointestinal, headache, insomnia, irritation in rare cases, seizures have occurred usually in people who exceeded the recommended dose or already have risk factors for seizure. It is true that weight gain may occur in people who quit smoking. Research has found that this is usually a temporary situation and people who had weight gain usually lost it after the first year quitting. If weight gain is the reason for not quitting, start a diet program prior to quitting smoking and incorporate it into you quitting smoking strategy. When you quit you may have temporary effects both physical and emotional. Physically: You may feel tingly, intestinal disorders, headache or sweating. Emotionally and mentally: Insomnia, vagueness, mental confusion and irritability may be occurring.
California State University, Long Beach
Student Health Center
Health Resource Center, Room 268
Phone: (562) 985-4609
All Saints Episcopal Christ
346 Termino Street
Long Beach, CA 90803
Services: Support group for adults
Weekly meetings on Mondays at 6:00 p.m.
United Church of Christ
2501 Palo Verde Avenue, Room #4
Long Beach, CA 90815
Services: Support group for adults
Weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m.
Universal Care Clinic
17660 Lakewood Blvd.
Bellflower, CA 90806
(800) 635-6668, extension 5055
Services: Four-week smoking cessation program
Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services
Tobacco Education Program
Services: Cessation information packet available with self-help tips and other resources for cessation services. (No charge for the information.)