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. Within the next hour, 50 more Americans will die from tobacco-related illnesses. This is the largest preventable cause of death in the country.
Nicotine is Addictive
"Addictive" means that when you use nicotine, your body becomes dependent on it. There are physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when you stop. Nicotine affects the brain, nerves, mood, and feelings. This is why it is difficult to stop using it. The pleasure nicotine gives makes you want more.
What Does Nicotine Do?
- When you inhale smoke, nicotine goes into your lungs and blood.
- Within 7 seconds, it travels directly to your brain.
- It affects your heart rate, blood pressure - even your brain waves.
- It can restrict your blood circulation, lower your skin temperature, and alter other important body functions as well.
- Nicotine can get you "hooked."
- It causes bad breath and makes your teeth and fingers yellow.
- It makes your hands shake.
- It makes your clothes and hair smell bad.
Risks of Smoking and Other Tobacco Use
- Smoking is strongly linked to emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia.
- It increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Tobacco use is a major cause of cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, bladder, colon, kidney, pancreas and uterine cervix. These cancers can form even if you use tobacco as "snuff" or chewing tobacco instead of smoking it, or if you don't inhale when smoking cigars.
- Tobacco use reduces life expectancy by 7 years.
These risks are the same for nonsmokers who breathe secondhand smoke. This secondhand smoke is especially damaging to children, even before birth.
What You Can Do About Smoking and Tobacco Addiction
If you or someone you love smokes, consider all the programs available to help people quit--the sooner the better. Everyone but the tobacco industry benefits when you quit. Within hours of quitting, your body begins to repair itself.
Where Can You Get Help?
- American Cancer Society
- American Lung Association
- National Cancer Institute
- American Heart Association
- Twelve Step groups, smoking cessation programs, support groups
- Hospitals, health clinics, mental health centers, smoking clinics
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- Clergy and family counselors
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD)
- SAISD (Substance and Alcohol Intervention Services for the Deaf)
Just Do It!
It is difficult to quit, but not impossible. Go ahead, pick a date and do it! Your kids (now or the ones you may have in the future) deserve clean air, good lungs and healthy parents! 44 million people in America alone have quit. You can, too. If you can't breathe, nothing else matters.
Here is helpful Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Formulations that hopefully will help you decide which method would fit your needs.