Nicotine, the main drug in tobacco, is one of the most heavily used
addictive drugs in the United States.
In 2004, 29.2 percent of the U.S.
population 12 and older-70.3 million people-used tobacco at least once in the
month prior to being interviewed. This figure includes 3.6 million young people
age 12 to 17. Young adults aged 18 to 25 reported the highest rate of current
use of any tobacco products (44.6 percent) in 2004. Most of them smoked
In 1989, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report that concluded that
cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, such as cigars, pipe tobacco, and
chewing tobacco, are addictive and that nicotine is the drug in tobacco that
causes addiction. In addition, the report determined that smoking was a major cause
of stroke and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Once hooked, nicotine addiction is
extremely difficult to overcome.
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
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
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.
provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the 2005 National Survey
on Drug Use and Health (SAMHSA).