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A complete list of the reasons to avoid smoking and chewing tobacco is not necessary here, but for starters, how about lung cancer, lip cancer, throat cancer, respiratory problems, heart disease and bad breath?
Tobacco contains nicotine. Nicotine is a drug. Therefore, when people smoke or chew tobacco, they are using a drug.
Christopher Columbus and his crewman on their voyage to the "New World" were the first Europeans to see tobacco smoking. The tobacco plant is called Nicotiana tabacum and is named after an early importer named Jean Nicot. A water/nicotine mixture has been used as an insecticide since 1746. In 1828, nicotine was isolated from the leaves of the tobacco plant.
In tobacco smoke, nicotine "rides" on small particles of tar. When the smoke with this nicotine/tar mixture gets to the lungs, the nicotine is absorbed quickly - nicotine reaches the brain about eight seconds after the smoke is inhaled. American cigarettes contain about 9 mg of nicotine, but because much of the nicotine is burned off, a smoker gets about 1 mg of nicotine in every cigarette. Nicotine reaches the central nervous system in about 3-5 minutes when tobacco is chewed.
Smoking can be stimulating or relaxing - it depends on a person's mood and dosage of nicotine. Nicotine acts on the central and peripheral nervous system. The rapid effects of nicotine include:
Percentage of Cigarette Smokers in the United States (over the
age of 18 years)
Image: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, October 10, 2003, Vol. 52 No. 40
Long term exposure to tobacco and nicotine increases the chances of cancer and results in addiction and dependence. Exactly how nicotine produces addiction and dependence is not clear, but there are some theories. In the brain, limbic pathways that use the neurotransmitter dopamine are affected by nicotine and may be responsible for some of the addictive properties. It is clear though, that nicotine is one of the most addicting substances known...just ask anyone who has tried to quit smoking. Common withdrawal symptoms in people who are trying to "kick the habit" of tobacco include:
"To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know, because I've done it a thousand times." - quote from Mark Twain
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For more information about nicotine, see:
Information about other drugs:
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