Just the Facts: Tobacco
What are the street names/slang terms?
Chew, Dip, Fags, Smoke
What is Tobacco?
Tobacco is an agricultural crop.
What does it look like?
Brown cut up leaves.
How is it used?
Tobacco is usually smoked. Sometimes tobacco leaves are “dipped” or “chewed” so the nicotine is absorbed via the gums.
What are its short-term effects?
When a person smokes a cigarette, the body responds immediately to the chemical nicotine in the smoke. Nicotine causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and the flow of blood from the heart. It also causes the arteries to narrow. Carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. This, combined with the effects produced by nicotine, creates an imbalance in the demand for oxygen by the cells and the amount of oxygen the blood is able to supply.
What are its long-term effects?
It is now well documented that smoking can cause chronic lung disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke, as well as cancer of the lungs, larynx, esophagus, mouth, and bladder. In addition, smoking is known to contribute to cancer of the cervix, pancreas, and kidneys. Researchers have identified more than 40 chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause cancer in humans and animals.
Smokeless tobacco and cigars also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancer. The harmful effects of smoking do not end with the smoker. Women who use tobacco during pregnancy are more likely to have adverse birth outcomes, including babies with low birth weight, which is linked with an increased risk of infant death and with a variety of infant health disorders.
The health of nonsmokers is adversely affected by environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Each year, exposure to ETS causes an estimated 3,000 non-smoking Americans to die of lung cancer and causes up to 300,000 children to suffer from lower respiratory-tract infections. Evidence also indicates that exposure to ETS increases the risk of coronary heart disease.
It's highly addictive. Nicotine is highly addictive and acts as both a stimulant and a sedative to the central nervous system. The ingestion of nicotine results in an almost immediate "kick" because it causes a discharge of epinephrine from the adrenal cortex. This stimulates the central nervous system, and other endocrine glands, which causes a sudden release of glucose. Stimulation is then followed by depression and fatigue, leading the abuser to seek more nicotine.
Smoking cigarettes and marijuana are closely related. Research shows that youth who smoke cigarettes are fourteen times more likely to try marijuana as those who don't.
Nicotine accumulates in the body. Nicotine is absorbed readily from tobacco smoke in the lungs, regardless of whether the tobacco smoke is from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Nicotine is also absorbed readily when tobacco is chewed. With regular use of tobacco, levels of nicotine accumulate in the body during the day and persist overnight thus exposing daily smokers to the effects of nicotine for 24 hours each day.
There are long-term hazards. In addition to nicotine, cigarette smoke is primarily composed of a dozen gases (mainly carbon monoxide) and tar. The tar in a cigarette, which varies from about 15 mg for a regular cigarette to 7 mg in a low-tar cigarette, exposes the user to a high expectancy rate of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in the smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases.
Second-hand smoke can cause illness. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children and sudden infant death.
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