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. It can be smoked in a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. It can be chewed (called smokeless tobacco or chewing tobacco) or sniffed through the nose (called snuff).
Nicotine is one of the more than 4,000 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
The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.
More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women. An estimated 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by smoking.
Smoking is generally five times higher among men than women, however, the gender gap declines with younger age. In developed countries smoking rates for men have peaked and have begun to decline, however for women they continue to climb.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “Much of the disease burden and premature mortality attributable to tobacco use disproportionately affect the poor.”
Of the 1.22 billion smokers, 1 billion of them live in developing or transitional economies. Rates of smoking have leveled off or declined in the developed world. In the developing world, tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4% per year as of 2002.
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
Cigarettes: Smokes, Cigs, Butts.
Smokeless Tobacco: Chew, Dip, Spit Tobacco, Snuff
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/