There are several types of tobacco use including smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and the chewable (smokeless) types. All of these lead to tobacco addiction. Even second-hand smoke can lead to a light addiction for those surrounded by tobacco smoke. There are thousands of deaths every year blamed on second-hand smoke. Also, many thousands of deaths each year are attributed to tobacco use.
Smoking cigarettes leads to a variety of diseases. Most of these diseases affect the heart and lungs including conditions such as emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, cancers of the mouth, pancreas, bladder, and larynx. Tobacco use is also responsible for heart attacks and strokes.
What Causes Tobacco Addiction?
Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco that causes addiction. Nicotine is similar to cocaine in the way it activates neurons in the brain to release dopamine which gives a pleasurable sensation to the user.
Tobacco addiction is a psychological dependency as well as a physical dependency. When someone has a tobacco addiction, the reasons given are that they enjoy it and that it relieves tension and helps them to relax. Others with tobacco addiction say the opposite and claim that smoking stimulates them. The fact is, nicotine is found to provide both stimulant and depressive effects.
Another aspect of the psychological dependency is that tobacco addicts find that they enjoy the whole process of handling the product when they are preparing to light up. Many who have tried to quit claim that they miss this part of smoking and have trouble finding something to do with their hands now that they aren’t actively reaching for and handling cigarettes.
There are many dangers of tobacco abuse. The tar in cigarettes increases a person’s chance of developing lung cancer, bronchial disorders and emphysema. Other possible dangers of tobacco abuse include:
- Bladder or kidney cancer,
- and high blood pressure
Carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular disease. If you are pregnant and smoking, you have a high risk of miscarriage or low birth-weight babies. Secondhand smoke can aggravate allergies in adults and increase respiratory illnesses in children. People think that smoking cigarettes calms their nerves but smoking releases epinephrine, which is a hormone that creates physiological stress in the smoker, rather than relaxation.
Regardless of awareness campaigns designed to dissuade young people from ever lighting up that first cigarette, the number of teen smokers continues to rise. There are also a large number of teens using chewing tobacco or snuff because it is cheaper and they mistakenly think it is safer than cigarettes.
With chewing tobacco or snuff, there is a high risk for lip, mouth or throat cancer because of the method in which these products are used. The same holds true for pipes and cigars. Although most pipe and cigar users don’t actually inhale the smoke, they are in danger of developing lip, mouth or throat cancer, also.
Why are Cigarettes so Harmful?
It may hard to believe, but each cigarette contains over 4,000 chemicals that are used to enhance flavor, cure the tobacco and a variety of other reasons. Some of the chemicals found in tobacco include tar, carbon monoxide, nitrosamines (carcinogenic solvent), and acetaldehyde (ethanol) to mention only a few.
In the past few years, a new chemical has been added to cigarettes for the purpose of making the cigarette extinguish itself. This is an effort to minimize the number of fires caused by careless smokers, but the dangerous effects to tobacco users from this added chemical are numerous. This additional chemical is applied to the cigarette paper in small bands of polymer ethylene vinyl acetate, which is an adhesive similar to benzene (carpet glue). This adhesive becomes toxic when burning, and the actual health effects have not been determined. These cigarettes are labeled as FSC, meaning they meet the requirements for being considered fire-safe.
Are Cigars, Pipes and Chewing Tobacco Harmful?
There is no safe form of tobacco use. Cigars and pipe tobacco contain the same dangerous chemicals as cigarettes, but contain more tar, toxins and carcinogens than cigarettes. Most of this is attributed to the way cigar tobacco is cured and fermented. Most cigar or pipe smokers do not inhale, therefore, there is less chance of lung cancer, but cigar or pipe smokers will risk lip, mouth or throat cancer.
Chewing tobacco, or smokeless tobacco also contains the same cancer causing chemicals as cigars and cigarettes. One main danger of chewing tobacco is mouth cancer because the user places a wad of the tobacco inside the cheek area for long periods of time. Smokeless tobacco is also just as addictive as cigarettes.
Increased taxes and attempts by the government to ban smoking in many places has not had the desired effect. People continue to smoke, regardless of the costs or dangers or laws. Addiction to tobacco is no different than addiction to drugs or alcohol. The product has caused dependency in the user and the cravings are too strong to resist.
There is an abundance of information available online about how to quit using tobacco. Additionally, there a hundreds of programs and products designed to help someone stop using tobacco. Some will work, others won’t. Each person reacts differently and what works for one may not work for another.
If you have tried to give up tobacco but failed, call today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you give up tobacco for good.