Nicotine (Tobacco Addiction and Abuse)
What Is Tobacco Addiction?
When people are addicted, they have a compulsive
need to seek out and use a substance, even when they understand the harm it can
cause. Tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco -- can all
be addictive. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, and most people that
do it want to quit. In fact, nearly 35 million people make a serious attempt to
quit each year. Unfortunately, most who try to quit on their own relapse -- often
within a week.
Is Nicotine Addictive?
Yes. It is actually the nicotine in tobacco that is
addictive. Each cigarette contains about 10 milligrams of nicotine. Because the
smoker inhales only some of the smoke from a cigarette, and not all of each puff
is absorbed in the lungs, a smoker gets about 1 to 2 milligrams of the drug from
each cigarette. Although that may not seem like much, it is enough to make
Is Nicotine the Only Harmful Part of Tobacco?
No. Nicotine is only one of
more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous, found in the smoke from
tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco products also contain many toxins, as well
as high levels of nicotine. Many of these other ingredients are things we would
never consider putting in our bodies, like tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde,
and nitrosamines. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases.
Carbon monoxide causes heart problems, which is one reason why smokers are at
high risk for heart disease.
Reviewed on 3/1/2012
Viewers share their comments
Nicotine - Common Street Names
Question: Names and terms change. Share some of the names you've heard for cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
Nicotine - Teen Use
Question: Since there have been cigarettes, teens have smoked. If you are under 20, do you smoke? If so, why?
Nicotine - Effects
Question: Describe how it feels to smoke and why you do/did it.
Nicotine - Long-Term Effects
Question: If you smoked cigarettes or chewed tobacco, what have been the long-term adverse effects?
Nicotine - Pregnancy
Question: Did you or your mother smoke while pregnant? What have been the effects or consequences?
Nicotine - Quitting
Question: Please share tips and suggestions for how you quit smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
Nicotine - Experience
Question: Please describe your experience with tobacco use.
Nicotine Addictive - Treatment
Question: What was the treatment for your tobacco addiction?