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Tobacco & Cigarettes

While perhaps not as glamorous as they once were, cigarettes remain an everyday staple for millions worldwide, along with other forms of tobacco like cigars and hookah. The side effects don’t reveal themselves up front, like with many drugs, but sneak up on habitual users in the form of cancer and other serious maladies. Tobacco addicts trying to quit are encouraged to reach out for a helping hand.

1.1 BillionTobacco users around the world

16 MillionNumber of Americans living with a smoking-related disease

20Percent of deaths in the United States are caused by smoking

$300 BillionYearly cost of smoking-related illness in the United States

19Number of chemicals in tobacco that can cause cancer

600,000Deaths each year worldwide are caused by secondhand smoke

Tobacco Use

One billion people. Around the globe, more than 1 billion people currently use tobacco in some form. It’s sold legally to kids as young as 16 in some countries. And in spite of its glaring risks – it kills somebody every 6 seconds – tobacco remains a daily fixture for people of all backgrounds.

Loose tobacco

Ingesting tobacco or inhaling tobacco smoke can boost your mood and stimulate your alertness for a short period of time. In some cultures, it’s a rite of passage. People have smoked tobacco for hundreds of years, and it’s not likely to go away any time soon. New forms of tobacco continue to crop up, and the ritual finds a new audience each and every day.

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Types of Tobacco

Cigarettes

Cigarettes are the most notorious form of tobacco and the most widespread in the modern world; more than 5 trillion cigarettes are produced globally each year. Cigarettes are a bit of finely-cut tobacco leaves rolled in a piece of paper, then smoked. They’re sold in packs, or rolled at home.

Cigars

Cigars are larger version of cigarettes, typically rolled in a tobacco leaf or similar substance rather than paper. Flavored, smaller-sized cigars have become a popular choice for many smokers. Cigars can be equally as addictive and harmful as cigarettes, despite the common belief that they are healthier.

Pipes

Pipes are the original method of smoking, dating back centuries. Usually made of wood or glass, pipes comprise a bowl for chopped tobacco, and a stem with a hole for inhaling after holding fire to the tobacco. Pipes have since become common methods of smoking marijuana and some other drugs.

Chewing Tobacco

Known by a handful of names, including dip, chew and snuff, chewing tobacco is loose leaf tobacco marketed as a smokeless alternative. By chewing on the leaves while placed in the corner of your mouth, dip releases the nicotine into the user’s body, before being spit out and thrown away.

Hookah

Typically a social and communal form of smoking, hookahs are water pipes with one or several hoses attached for inhaling. Flavored tobacco mixtures, also called “shisha,” are heated by charcoal then filtered through water while being inhaled. The practice of hookah began in the Middle East and Asia, but has become popular in the United States, especially among younger people.

Electronic Cigarettes

Powered by a small battery, these small devices vaporize nicotine solutions for easy and smoke-free inhaling. A recent invention, electronic cigarettes (or “e-cigarettes”) quickly caught on and became a trendy alternative to cigarettes. In 2013, 12 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes.

Cigarettes

Cigarettes are the most notorious form of tobacco and the most widespread in the modern world; more than 5 trillion cigarettes are produced globally each year. Cigarettes are a bit of finely-cut tobacco leaves rolled in a piece of paper, then smoked. They’re sold in packs, or rolled at home.

Cigars

Cigars are larger version of cigarettes, typically rolled in a tobacco leaf or similar substance rather than paper. Flavored, smaller-sized cigars have become a popular choice for many smokers. Cigars can be equally as addictive and harmful as cigarettes, despite the common belief that they are healthier.

Pipes

Pipes are the original method of smoking, dating back centuries. Usually made of wood or glass, pipes comprise a bowl for chopped tobacco, and a stem with a hole for inhaling after holding fire to the tobacco. Pipes have since become common methods of smoking marijuana and some other drugs.

Chewing Tobacco

Known by a handful of names, including dip, chew and snuff, chewing tobacco is loose leaf tobacco marketed as a smokeless alternative. By chewing on the leaves while placed in the corner of your mouth, dip releases the nicotine into the user’s body, before being spit out and thrown away.

Hookah

Typically a social and communal form of smoking, hookahs are water pipes with one or several hoses attached for inhaling. Flavored tobacco mixtures, also called “shisha,” are heated by charcoal then filtered through water while being inhaled. The practice of hookah began in the Middle East and Asia, but has become popular in the United States, especially among younger people.

Electronic Cigarettes

Powered by a small battery, these small devices vaporize nicotine solutions for easy and smoke-free inhaling. A recent invention, electronic cigarettes (or “e-cigarettes”) quickly caught on and became a trendy alternative to cigarettes. In 2013, 12 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes.

Side Effects & Risks of Smoking or Chewing Tobacco

In the United States, nearly 500,000 people die each year from illnesses related to tobacco use. Many forms of cancer result from regular use of tobacco, including cancer of the mouth, throat, stomach and lungs. Tobacco contains 19 chemicals known to cause cancer. This number inflates to 50 in the case of cigarettes. Long-term tobacco use also can cause gum disease, heart disease and stroke.

Immediate side effects of tobacco can include:

Tobacco not only harms the person using it; it can also create a world of danger for people in the same room. Breathing in this secondhand smoke increases your risk of developing heart disease or lung cancer by up to 30 percent. In addition, at least 150,000 babies in the U.S. experience respiratory tract infections due to secondhand smoke. An estimated 600,000 yearly deaths worldwide result from secondhand smoke, with 40,000 of these happening in the U.S. alone.

Smoking while pregnant can lead to birth defects, as well as sudden infant death syndrome. In 2010, almost 11 percent of women who recently gave birth admitted to smoking during pregnancy.

Is Tobacco Addictive?

It’s no secret that smoking tobacco is highly addictive. Nicotine, one of the main chemicals in tobacco, plays the most significant role in addiction development. Within 2-3 hours of your last fix, you may experience a number of nicotine withdrawal effects. These might include:

The intensely addictive nature of nicotine, along with the public acceptance of smoking, often drives tobacco users to abuse its products day in and day out. In the worst cases of dependency, people smoke several packs of cigarettes a day. Heavy smoking such as this drains years off a user’s life, and expedites the development of smoking-related illness. Even so, it’s nearly impossible to pull some smokers away from the habit.

Kicking the Habit

If you decide it’s time to quit, reach out to friends or family and ask for their support. Quitting something as mentally and physically addictive as tobacco is rarely done alone. Together you can ensure the best odds for kicking the habit once and for all.

Each person responds differently to different treatments. The most effective methods of smoking cessation tend to be behavioral interventions, such as one-on-one counseling and self-help programs, and medications such as bupropion or nicotine replacements (like nicotine patches or gum). It may take you several tries to quit, and you may need to combine treatments. It’s important to stay strong and remind yourself that every day, people in your same situation are successful in quitting.

Smokefree.gov and the American Lung Association offer helpful guides and suggestions for living a tobacco-free life. They can also point you in the right direction for local or national help lines and support groups.

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