Tobacco by decree


Do you know?                                      Short-term Effects
• Nicotine is the addictive chemical found in     While using, and with increasing doses,
  tobacco leaves. When dried, the leaves can      a person may experience:
  be used to make cigarettes, cigars, pipe        • a short high, from a few moments to half
  tobacco, chewing tobacco and snuff, which         an hour, followed by a period of relaxation
  is a powdered tobacco.
                                                  • increased heart rate, faster breathing.
• Nicotine is most often taken by breathing         (Smoking causes higher levels of carbon
  in the smoke from a cigarette or other            monoxide in the blood, decreasing its ability
  tobacco product. (See the “Smokeless              to carry oxygen, thus causing the heart to
  Tobacco” sheet in this series for information     work harder.)
  on chewing tobacco and snuff.)
                                                  • increased ability to concentrate
• Nicotine is a stimulant (increases energy
  and alertness). When smokers haven’t had a      • relief of depressed (sad) feelings
  cigarette for a while, they may go into with-   • dizziness, coughing, diarrhea and vomiting
  drawal and feel jumpy or jittery. Smoking         in first time or novice smokers
  a cigarette may make them feel calm. This       • reduced appetite (lack of desire to eat)
  calmness occurs because the nicotine is
  getting rid of the withdrawal symptoms.         Good News About Quitting
• Smokers obtain a dose of between 0.1 mg         If you quit smoking, the health benefits start
  and 0.4 mg of nicotine per cigarette, even      right away, and after 10 years a person’s health
  though most Canadian cigarettes contain         is similar to someone who never smoked.
  0.5 to 2.0 mg of nicotine.
                                                  There are legal “nicotine replacement” products
• Tobacco contains about 4,000 other very         available without a prescription to help those
  harmful substances, such as tar, acids,         who want to quit (gum, patches, nasal spray).
  glycerol, ketones and carbon monoxide.
• Second-hand smoke contains over 4,000
  chemicals and gases, such as lead, arsenic,     Long-term Effects
  formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and           After regular use over a long period of time,
  can cause cancer in non-smokers.                a person may experience:
  – Two-thirds of the smoke from a cigarette      • mood swings and lack of energy
     enters the surrounding air.
                                                  • illness from various cancers. Smoking is the
  – Second-hand tobacco smoke contains              main cause of lung cancer and can cause
     nitrogen dioxide in concentrations at          cancer in many other places (colon, mouth,
     50 times, and hydrogen cyanide at              throat, bladder, cervix).
     160 times, recognized hazardous levels.
                                                  • chronic bronchitis and emphysema (serious
• In Canada, it is illegal to sell or supply        lung problems affecting ability to breathe)
  tobacco products to any person under 18.
  It is also illegal for underage people to buy   • heart disease and stroke, with stroke an
  or possess tobacco.                               extra risk for women on birth control pills
                                                                                  Continued on Back…
• weakened immune system (the body is              • Pregnant mothers who smoke run a
  unable to fight off infections as easily)          greater risk that their babies will be born
• digestive system problems, such as ulcers          sick or premature.
• problems with the healing of cuts/wounds         • Second-hand smoke is dangerous to babies,
                                                     as they breathe faster than adults, taking in
• death – smoking is the main preventable
                                                     more pollutants from the air.
  cause of death and disability in Canada.
  Over 35,000 people die each year from            • Second-hand smoke has been linked to SIDS
  smoking related diseases.                          (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which
                                                     kills 100 babies every year.
Tolerance and Dependence                           • Second-hand smoke is a cause of asthma
• Smokers can be psychologically dependent           attacks, ear infections, bronchitis and
  (they feel they need it) as well as physically     coughs in children.
  dependent (the body needs it) on nicotine.       • Children's exposure to second-hand
• People who smoke do not seem to develop            smoke may contribute to heart disease in
  a tolerance for nicotine, so they don’t need       adulthood.
  more to get the same effect. However, they
  do need to smoke at certain intervals to          REMEMBER: A person's experience with any
  keep the desired level of nicotine in their       drug can vary. Here are a few of the many things
  system to avoid withdrawal symptoms (see          that may affect the experience: the amount and
  next section).                                    strength of the drug taken, the setting, a person's
                                                    mood and expectations before taking the dru g ,
• Tolerance to certain side effects (such as        gender, overall health, past experience with that
  dizziness and nausea) felt by first-time          drug and whether more than one drug is being
  smokers builds up quickly.                        used at the same time. Using alcohol and other
                                                    drugs at the same time can be dangerous.
Withdrawal Symptoms
• After a few hours with no nicotine, a
                                                   Sources and For More Information
  regular smoker may have less energy, be
                                                   A Primer of Drug Action, Robert Julien, Henry Holt and
  a bit depressed (feel sad) and have a hard       Company, 2001.
  time concentrating. Other symptoms could         Be A Prevention Player, Indian-Metis Friendship Centre
  be nervousness, irritability, headache,          of Winnipeg, Inc. 1997.
  anger, hunger and sleeping problems.             Buzzed, Duke University Medical Centre, 1998.
• Smoking will make the person feel better         Fast Facts on Drugs, AFM, 2004.
  again. However, after quitting for good,         Canadian Health Network Website: www.canadian-health-
  these withdrawal symptoms will go away
                                                   Drugs & Drug Abuse, CAMH, 1998.
  within a few days to a few weeks.
                                                   Nicotine Information (brochure), Vancouver Island Health
• Cravings for a cigarette may last for weeks      Authority.
  to months.                                       Straight Facts about Drugs and Drug Abuse, Health
                                                   Canada, 2000.
Other Risks                                        Street Drugs: A Drug Identification Guide, Publishers
                                                   Group, LLC, Plymouth, MN, 2005.
• Women smokers may reach menopause                Tobacco (brochure), Addiction Research Foundation,
  early, get cervical cancer or have problems      Toronto, 1991.
  with their menstrual periods.                    Tobacco (information sheet), Addiction Research
• Bar and restaurant workers are twice as          Foundation, Toronto, 1997.
  likely to get lung cancer from second-hand       For more information or for help with a drug or alcohol problem:
  smoke than people who do not work in             Contact your local Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) office or visit
                                                   the website at AFM offers a broad range of prevention
  these places. This is one reason why many        and rehabilitation services, including harm reduction and abstinence-based
  regions have made smoking in public              programs for alcohol, other drugs and gambling.

  places illegal.                                  AFM Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute
                                                   for professional advice. Every effort has been made to ensure that the
• At least 1,100 non-smokers exposed to            information was accurate at the time of publication.
  second-hand smoke will die this year in          Permission to reproduce is granted by AFM. If you wish to order
  Canada.                                          multiple copies of this or other topics in The Basics Series, please contact
                                                   the AFM Library at 1-866-638-2568 or

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