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How Tobacco Affects
Your Body

Home Drug Abuse and Addiction How Tobacco AffectsYour Body

What's on this page

    History

    Native Americans used tobacco for many years before Europeans arrived to the Americas. European settlers arrived and took it back to Europe where it spread in popularity. Some tribes used tobacco recreationally while others used it for spiritual purposes. Native Americans viewed tobacco as a gift from the creator and saw it as a way to carry thoughts and prayers to heaven. Years later in 1609, John Rolfe was noted as one of the first settlers to cultivate tobacco for commercial use in Virginia. He used seeds he acquired in Bermuda to grow his tobacco. Tobacco was used as a form of currency for many years in Virginia; Rolfe made his fortune from his tobacco cultivation. Throughout the remainder of the 17th and 18th century tobacco was the main cash crop in Virginia and became one of the most popular cash crops in the Americas. In 1881 the tobacco market was revolutionized by James Bonsack. He created a cigarette machine that produced cigarettes thirteen times faster than a cigarette hand rolled by a human. This caused enormous growth in the tobacco industry that continued until the scientific discoveries of health consequences in the 20th century.

    Classifications

    Tobacco is an agricultural product produced from leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be used as an organic pesticide and also has some medicinal purposes. Most commonly, tobacco is used as a recreational drug. It is a valuable cash crop in the United States and for many other countries around the world.

    Uses

    Tobacco is used as a recreational drug. It is most commonly smoked in a cigarette but can also be chewed and insufflated.

    Effects

    Tobacco does not produce a euphoric high such as other commonly used addictive recreational drugs. An individual who has no tolerance to tobacco products may feel a slight buzz at first ingestion. After prolonged tobacco consumption the user can quickly develop an addiction due to the addictive substance nicotine that is in tobacco. There are many negative health effects caused by the use of tobacco. Lung, throat, and tongue cancer can all be caused by regular use of tobacco products. Even with the proven scientific consequences due to tobacco consumption, the use of tobacco is still practiced by over one billion people worldwide. It is estimated that one out of every three adults uses tobacco regularly.

    Similar drugs

    Drugs similar to tobacco are caffeine and marijuana.

    Addictive information

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    The drug nicotine that is prevalent in tobacco causes physical and mental dependence. After continued use of tobacco it is not uncommon for an individual to become addicted to the use of tobacco. There are many aids to help individuals quit using tobacco products. Quitting using tobacco has been compared to remaining abstinent from other addictive drugs.

    Withdrawal

    The withdrawal from stopping the use of tobacco, or cutting off a supply of nicotine as a result from using tobacco is not as intense as the withdrawal from most narcotics. When users cease their intake of nicotine they may feel agitated and on edge. Some chronic users who have quit have also complained of headaches and feelings of anxiety and nervousness during the detox process. In most cases, individuals quitting their intake of nicotine use products to help wean them down slowly. This makes quitting more comfortable and easier to accomplish.

    Overdose

    There has never been a known case of a tobacco overdose. Chronic tobacco use does lead to health complications that can prove to be fatal in the future.