Tobacco Addiction | Overview

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Why does it seem so hard to stop smoking?

Smoking causes changes in your body and in the way you act. The changes in your body are caused by an addiction to nicotine. The changes in the way you act developed over time as you bought cigarettes, lit them and smoked them. These changes have become your smoking habit.

When you have a smoking habit, many things seem to go along with having a cigarette. These might include having a cup of coffee or an alcoholic drink, being stressed or worried, talking on the phone, driving, socializing with friends or wanting something to do with your hands.

What's in cigarettes?

Cigarettes contain substances that you would never think about putting in your body. For example, cigarettes contain tar, carbon monoxide and chemicals like DDT, arsenic and formaldehyde (a gas used to preserve dead animals).

The tobacco in cigarettes also contains nicotine--the drug that makes smoking addictive. All of these things are bad for your body. Nicotine raises your risk of heart attack and stroke. Tar and carbon monoxide cause serious breathing problems. And you know tobacco smoke causes cancer.

What if I smoke just a few cigarettes a day?

Even a few cigarettes a day are bad for your health. Once you start smoking, it can be very hard to stop. The nicotine in cigarettes is poisonous and very addictive. Once you start using it, your body will feel like it cannot function without it. Most adult smokers started when they were teenagers, and later realized that they couldn't stop smoking.

Is chewing tobacco as bad as cigarettes?

Yes. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco are toxic to your body. You may hear more about the harm cigarettes do to the body, but chewing tobacco can also hurt your health. Chewing tobacco can cause sores and white patches in your mouth, as well as diseases and cancers of the mouth, gums and throat. Chewing can give you bad breath, discolor your teeth and cause tooth loss. And one chew contains 15 times the nicotine of a cigarette (meaning the risk of addiction is much higher).

Source

Reducing Tobacco Use in Adolescents by Irene M. Rosen, LTC, MC, USA, and Douglas M. Maurer, MAJ, MC, USA (American Family Physician February 15, 2008, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20080215/483.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/11
Created: 09/09

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