It’s so easy to think “I’ll just have one.” But it’s important to understand that tobacco users are playing with fire in more ways than one: tobacco is as addictive as heroin, and the teenage years are when most (9 out of 10) lifelong smokers become addicted.
Nicotine – the addictive chemical in tobacco – is similar to a brain chemical called acetylcholine and bounces quickly to neuron receptors in the brain, releasing adrenaline and increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. It also causes the release of dopamine – the pleasure chemical, meaning users begin to associate tobacco use with joyful, happy feelings. However, the effects of nicotine quickly diminish, leaving the user wanting another cigarette soon.
Cigarette withdrawals can begin just a couple hours after the last dose, and include anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, drowsiness, headaches, increased appetite, problems concentrating and feelings of restlessness and frustration.
Nicotine is just one of many drugs and toxins found in tobacco products. The FDA website has a full list of all the potentially harmful toxins found in tobacco products. These toxins can lead to many serious and deadly consequences.
Signs & Effects of Tobacco Use
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Loss of concentration or irritability when unable to use tobacco
- Lowered fertility in men and women with long term use
- Tobacco cravings (can last months after last use)
- Loss of sense of smell and taste from long term use
- Mouth, lung pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, ureter, and bladder cancer from long-term use or exposure
- Lower bone density in women from long term use
- Decreased tooth and gum health from long term use