Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves that are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety of effects. It is considered an addictive substance because it contains the chemical nicotine. The tobacco plant is believed to have originated in the Western Hemisphere. The cultivated species most often grown for North American and European tobacco products is Nicotine Tabacum. The leaves of the plant are prepared for smoking, chewing, or sniffing. In addition nicotine tobacco contains over 45 carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals.
Prior to European influence in the Americas, the Indians of Mexico and Peru used tobacco for the eremonies, medical purposes and to alleviate hunger pains during famines. Columbus is credited with introducing tobacco into Europe. Tobacco use became widely accepted by the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, and Scandinavians. Explorers and sailors who became dependent upon tobacco began planting seeds at their ports of call, introducing the product into other parts of Europe and Asia. The colonist introduced tobacco on the American continent in the early 1600’s.
It became a major crop and trading commodity of the Jamestown Colony. Over the years tobacco has been claimed as a cure for a wide range of ailments with arying forms of administration. Its social importance also grew over the years, even the point of denoting the “modern women” during the 1st part of the twentieth century. It was not until the 1960’s, with the introduction of medical research related to cigarette smoking that the adverse health effects of the tobacco became widely publicized. Unfortunately, most of the health hazards were only associated with cigarette smoking.
While the number of cigarette smokers in the United States has continually decreased over recent years the number of smokeless tobacco users has steadily increased. Since the 1970’s a 15-fold increase in mokeless tobacco has been noted in adolescents 17 to 19 years old. This has most likely been related to the emphasis on smoke free environments, availability, increased advertising of smokeless products, and the false belief that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative for those convinced they should stop smoking but who still want the nicotine effects of tobacco.
Although over 40 million people in the United States have quit smoking, about 50 million continue to smoke (about 25% of the population). Each year, approximately 1. 3 million Americans quit smoking. In addition about two thirds of current smokers report they have ever tried to quit. About 30 to 40% of those who have not tried to quit say they do not believe that the health risks of smoking will ultimately decrease their risks for disease. Young men are at highest risk for using tobacco products but the incidence in women is increasing.
Smokeless tobacco use patterns are higher within the following occupations; athletes, ranchers, farmers, fishermen, lumberjacks, and industrial workers, who have jobs requiring hand freedom. Nicotine has both stimulant and depressant effects upon the body. Bowel tone and activity increases along with saliva and bronchial secretions. Stimulation is followed with a phase that depresses the respiratory muscles. As an euphoric agent, nicotine causes arousal as well as relaxation from stressful situations.
On the average, tobacco use increases the heart rate 10 to 20 beats per minute and it increases the blood pressure reading by 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (because it constricts the blood vessels). Nicotine may also increase sweating, nausea and diarrhea because of its effects on the central nervous system. Nicotine’s effect upon hormonal activities is also present. It elevates the blood level of glucose and increases insulin production. Nicotine also tends to enhance platelet aggregation, which may lead to blood clotting. The positive effects of nicotine upon the body should also be noted.
It stimulates memory and alertness, enhancing cognitive skills that requires speed, reaction time and work performance. As a mood-altering agent, it tends to alleviate boredom, reduces stress, and reduces aggressive responses to stressful events. It also tends to be an appetite suppressant specifically decreasing the appetite for simple carbohydrates and disturbs the efficiency with which food is metabolized. People who use tobacco products frequently depend upon it to rovide these side effects to help them accomplish certain tasks at specific levels. With all the information that is out today why do people continue to smoke?
Since 1964, the Surgeon General has warned that smoking is a health hazard this announcement promoted the U. S. Public Health Service and The American Cancer Society to publicize the dangers of tobacco smoking, and offer suggestions to those trying to quit. Cigarette packages were required to carry the warning ” may be hazardous to health. ” Later the wording was strengthened to read ” Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health. The reason cigarette smokers do not give up this harmful habit easily is simple; Nicotine is a highly addictive substance like many other drugs.
Smokers are hooked as surely as is any heroin or cocaine addict; giving up cigarettes creates painful withdrawal symptoms and a craving that many people cannot overcome. The Public Health Service has declared cigarettes and tobacco to be our most common form of drug dependency. Researchers discovered that nicotine is carried to the brain via the bloodstream within a minute or two of smoking; it’s then eliminated about a half-hour later, and then the craving returns. Scientists and farmers have long known that nicotine is a deadly poison.
They use a concentrated spray of the chemical, extracted from tobacco leaves as a potent insecticide. In humans, nicotine constricts the blood vessels, decreasing blood circulation to the skin and vital organs. Long term smokers tend to look much older than non-smokers- a result of the contraction of the capillaries on the skins surface, which prevents absorption of tissue building nutrients. Furthermore, smokers afflicted with arterial hardening and cholesterol deposits suffer a significantly higher number of heart attacks than non-smokers.
The damaged blood vessels give way sooner, when shriveled by nicotine. Until the early 1900’s tobacco was usually chewed, inhaled as snuff, or smoked in cigars and pipes without being inhaled. In other words, nicotine was being absorbed into the bloodstream through the membranes of the mouth, nose, and bronchial passages, not through the lungs. The invention of cigarette paper and automatic rolling machinery changed all that, and soon tobacco users were puffing away on white wrapped sticks of tobacco. This introduced new toxins deep into the body, known collectively as “tar”.
These toxins are byproducts of the combustion of paper, obacco, and chemicals in tobacco processing. The most lethal byproduct inhaled from burning tobacco is benzopyrene; a carcinogenic chemical also emitted by automobile exhaust pipes and factory smokestacks. In numerous tests, benzopyrene has been applied to the respiratory tracts of laboratory animals, and has usually resulted in malignant tumors. The leading killer among all forms of cancers, lung cancer currently claims about 140,000 victims annually.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 87% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided if only people would stop smoking. Lung cancer isn’t the only concern. The chemical rritants absorbed into the blood are excreted almost unchanged in the urine, and they can lead to the development of cancer of the kidneys, prostate glands, and bladder. The last 10 years have seen a shift inner awareness of the dangers of smoking. While we have known for three decades that smoking is a leading cause of cancer death, we have finally acknowledged that second hand smoke can cause the same problems as firsthand smoke.
In early 1993, in fact, the EPA classified second hand smoke a Class A carcinogen. That label means Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is every bit as potent as arsenic, asbestos, and radon in its ability to ause cancer. In 1988, following years of study, the Surgeon General stated that sidetream smoke could be deadly for non-smokers. In addition to causing respiratory problems, ETS is responsible for 3,000 to 5,000 lung cancer deaths a year in non-smokers, as well as 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from heart disease. It is easy to see why tobacco smoke is so deadly.
It contains more than 4,000 chemicals and at least 45 of its ingredients are known or suspected to be cancer causing. But what is truly alarming is that secondhand smoke contains greater concentrations of certain carcinogens than primary smoke. It also contains greater amounts of icotine and tar, both strong and addictive toxins. The first interview I had conducted was with my grandmother who happily admits she has never been a smoker or tobacco user. Even though she has never used tobacco, she has firsthand experiences of what tobacco can do to a person and their family.
The first story she told me was about how her husband and my grandfather, needed to have triple by-pass surgery. The surgery was performed in the spring of 1991 and was successful; my grandfather still lives today. The doctor had told him that his smoking over the last 40 years was one of the biggest factors that made him need the surgery. My grandfather has since quit, but will be on medication for the rest of his life. The second story my grandmother had told me did not have such a happy ending. Her sister was only 52 years old when she was diagnosed with emphysema.
The contributing factors were obvious, it was tobacco use. She sat and told me the stories of how she would sit by her sister’s side feeling helpless because they were told that nothing could be done. My grandmother said of how her sister wished she knew the dangers of smoking when she was younger; because by the time she had found out she had no desire to quit because she had been smoking for so long. After a period of time the emphysema finally killed my aunt and left her husband, two children and many family members behind. These were two stories with different endings that my grandmother will never forget.
Stories like these should make society realize that tobacco is not a personal problem, it is a global problem. Everyone is affected by tobacco smoke, and it is time we all should get the proper education to learn about the dangers of cigarette smoke. More Americans are deciding to quit smoking due to its negative effects on their health, so the tobacco companies must find new ways to market their products. Studies show that most mokers start smoking as teens (80% before the age of 18) and if they don’t start then, they will probably never smoke.
The tobacco companies know this, so they target these children through advertisements. They also target the women more because women are more likely to be influenced than men are. The third most targeted population is the minority group. Currently in the United States the minorities’ make-up 25% of our population, this is a lot of people with a lot of money to spend on tobacco products. Tobacco companies spend $700,000 an hour trying to convince people smoking is fun and exciting. These companies need to ecruit 5,000 new smokers each day, because 1,000 smokers will die and another 4,000 smokers quit each day.
There are a lot of different methods that these advertisements companies use: such as using good looking models to make smoking look fun and exciting. They put ads in magazines and on billboards, they sponsor car races, rodeos, and sporting events to make smoking look like winners. They use cartoon characters so young people will recognize their brands and they also try to use “free stuff” coupons so you buy more cigarettes. With all this advertisement how can we prevent our children from smoking? The Federal Government along with state and local government have started their war with these tobacco companies.
They are trying to educate students on the dangers of smoking, through health educators and programs such as D. A. R. E. They have also used the same advertising techniques as tobacco companies, with their own anti-smoking campaign. Except they make smoking look terrible and show that to be a real winner you don’t need to smoke. What about all these people who are currently addicted and want to quit smoking, what are we to do as health professionals? Numbers show there is a high percentage of American adults that want to quit moking but just can’t.
Like other addictive behaviors, tobacco use is difficult to stop and maintain, particularly if acting alone. The best success in quitting has been noted with comprehensive programs that may combine various strategies including education, peer support, behavior recognition, behavior modification methods, recognition of potential relapse situations, and strategies for confronting such situations. Medications that are nicotine substitutes, such as transdermal nicotine or nicotine chewing gum may be used but their effectiveness ranges between 25%-40%. There are also alternative methods such as hypnosis, cupuncture, or even cold turkey.
Anyone of these methods can work with the proper support and total mindset upon quitting. The benefits of quitting are almost instant. Within 20 minutes blood pressure and pulse rate drop, body temperature of extremities increase to normal. Within 8 hours, risk of sudden heart attack decreases. After 48 hours nerve endings begin to regenerate and sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. Between 2 weeks and 3 months of quitting, circulation improves and walking becomes easier. Lung function increases up to 30%. These benefits will increase the longer the person has not smoked.
Given all the dangers of cigarette smoking it is not surprising that many states have taken legal action to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. More than 40 states and at least 480 communities have passed legislation to restrict smoking in public places. A majority of companies now have smoking policies that restrict or ban smoking in the workplace. We spend some 22 billion a year on medical care related to smoking, and lost productivity exceeds another 43 billion a year. As of 1986 smokeless tobacco commercials were banned from TV and radio. As of 1987 smokeless tobacco companies were required to have warning labels on them.