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Smoking and smokeless tobacco
Alternative namesSecond-hand smoke; Cigarette smoking; Cigar smoking; Pipe smoking; Smokeless snuff; Tobacco use
Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves, which are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety of effects. It is considered an addictive substance because it contains the chemical nicotine.
In addition to nicotine, tobacco contains over 19 known cancer-causing chemicals (most are collectively known as "tar") and more than 4,000 other chemicals. These include acetone, ammonia, carbon monoxide, cyanide, methane, propane, and butane.
Over 38 million people in the United States have successfully quit smoking. Yet there are still around 50 million Americans who smoke. The majority say they would like to quit.
And, while the number of cigarette smokers in the United States has dropped over recent years, the number of smokeless tobacco users has steadily risen. This trend is likely related to the false belief that smokeless tobacco is safe. It is NOT. Smokeless tobacco carries many of the same health risks as cigarettes. Some people who want to stop smoking, but who still crave the nicotine, turn to smokeless tobacco wrongly thinking that they are doing something good for themselves.
THE EFFECTS OF NICOTINE
Finally, tobacco is highly addictive. It is considered mood and behavior altering. Tobacco is believed to have an addictive potential comparable to alcohol, cocaine , and morphine.
There are many reasons to quit using tobacco. Knowing these serious health risks can help motivate you to quit. When used over a long period, tobacco and its various chemical components (like tar, nicotine, and thousands of others) can increase your risk of:
If you use smokeless tobacco long term, you have many of these same risks, plus a 50 times greater risk for oral cancer.
Even if you don't smoke yourself, but you are exposed regularly to secondhand smoke, you have a higher risk of:
TIME TO QUIT
There are a lot of ways to quit smoking, and many resources to help you. Family members, friends, and coworkers may be supportive or encouraging, but the desire and commitment to quit must be your own.
Most people who have been able to successfully quit smoking made at least one unsuccessful attempt in the past. Try not to view past attempts to quit as failures, but rather as learning experiences.
Feel ready to quit? Here are some tips:
Like any addiction, quitting tobacco is difficult, particularly if you are acting alone. If you join smoking cessation programs, you have a much better chance of success. Such programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites.
The best quit-smoking programs combine multiple strategies, including peer support and ways to overcome potential relapse situations. Counseling by telephone can be a very helpful reinforcement, even as effective as face-to-face counseling.
Short-term use of the antidepressant medication bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), along with a quit-smoking program, may increase your success. Buproprion requires a prescription from your health provider and should not be used if you have a history of seizures or kidney failure.
If you aren't successful the first time, simply look at what occurred or what didn't work, develop new strategies, and try again. Many attempts are often necessary to finally "beat the habit."
THE BENEFITS OF QUITTING
WHEN TO CONTACT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Call your doctor if you are a smoker and:
Other resources include local chapters of the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Association. Both organizations have a wide range of resource materials and comprehensive smoking cessation programs.
Update Date: 11/7/2003Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Boston, Ma., and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc. Previously reviewed by David Webner, M.D., Department of Family Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT