What is tobacco?

Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. After it is picked, it is dried, ground up, and used in different ways. Tobacco contains nicotine which is very addictive and can cause users to become dependent on tobacco.

Different ways people use tobacco

People can smoke, chew, or sniff tobacco. Tobacco products include:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Dissolvables
  • Hookah Tobacco
  • Nicotine Gels
  • Pipe Tobacco
  • Roll-Your-Own Tobacco
  • Smokeless Tobacco Products, including Dip, Snuff, Snus, and Chewing Tobacco

On August 8, 2016, the Food and Drug administration began to regulate Vapes, E-Cigs, Hookah Pens, and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) as non-combustible tobacco products due to the delivery of nicotine. See E-Cigarettes/Vapes for more information.

Tobacco Health Effects

Nicotine is one of over 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes and its smoke. It is the chemical that makes tobacco addictive or habit forming. Once we smoke, chew, or sniff tobacco, nicotine goes into our bloodstream, and our body wants more. The nicotine in tobacco makes it a drug. This means that when we use tobacco, it changes our body in some way. Because nicotine is a stimulant, it speeds up the nervous system, so we feel like we have more energy. It also makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure.

Compared with nonsmokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times,
  • Stroke by 2 to 4 times,
  • Men developing lung cancer by 23 times,
  • Women developing lung cancer by 13 times, and
  • Dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.
  • Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels (arteries) and puts smokers at risk of developing peripheral vascular disease (i.e., obstruction of the large arteries in the arms and legs that can cause a range of problems from pain to tissue loss or gangrene).
  • Smoking causes abdominal aortic aneurysm (i.e., a swelling or weakening of the main artery of the body—the aorta—where it runs through the abdomen).
  • Smoking causes lung diseases (e.g., emphysema, bronchitis, chronic airway obstruction) by damaging the airways and alveoli (i.e., small air sacs) of the lungs.

Smoking can cause the following cancers:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cancer of the cervix
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
  • Lung cancer
  • Cancer of the oral cavity (mouth)
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cancer of the pharynx (throat)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Smoking causes death

Other symptoms of smoking:

  • Bad breath and yellowing of the teeth
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Frequent or recurrent lung infections and other diseases, such as influenza, common colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) and rapid heart rate
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood
  • Low tolerance for exercise and fatigue
  • Nicotine-stained fingers and teeth
  • Premature aging and wrinkling of the skin
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Smoker’s cough (an ongoing loose cough that produces phlegm) and hoarse voice
  • Smokey-smelling clothes and hair

Street Names


  • Smokes
  • Cigs
  • Butts

Smokeless Tobacco

  • Chew
  • Dip
  • Spit Tobacco
  • Snuff


Tobacco 21

If you’re interested in raising the legal access to tobacco products in your local jurisdiction to age 21 please visit the following link http://tobacco21.org/