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Article Summary

Tobacco and Nicotine

Tobacco and nicotine are said to be two of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. Cigarettes containing tobacco and nicotine are legal substances for those over the age of 18, with a handful of states going so far as to raise the legal age to 19. Young adults under the age of 18 choose to smoke for a variety of reasons: to experiment, to look mature, peer pressure, because its “forbidden”, because it feels exciting or because their parents do not allow it. Adults choose to smoke for different reasons than young people. They smoke to relieve stress and pressures, boredom, as an energy boost, to control their weight and/or they simply enjoy the sensation smoking gives them.

How Nicotine Effects You

Today we know exactly how harmful tobacco and nicotine are to those who choose to use it. The tar in cigarettes has been shown to increase the smoker’s risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of developing cardiovascular diseases. A woman who is pregnant and is a smoker runs a higher risk of miscarriage and low birth-weight babies. The toxicity of secondhand smoke from cigarettes containing tobacco and nicotine has been shown to cause lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children.

Nicotine withdrawal brings on physical symptoms and can be very uncomfortable while they last. Some have dubbed the term “quitter’s flu” during the initial phase of smoking cessation because symptoms often mimic a cold or mild case of the flu.

Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Constipation, gas, stomach pain
  • Cough
  • Cravings to smoke
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable, feeling cranky
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Sore tongue and/or gums
  • Tightness in the chest

Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult challenges a person will go through. In some circumstances, cigarettes are said to be as difficult to stop using as illicit drugs. The best way to continue to remain tobacco and nicotine free are to follow these words of advice:

  • Delay using ' wait the three to five minutes until the urge to smoke has passed.
  • Distract yourself from your urge to smoke. Take a walk or call a friend.
  • Drink water to fight off the cravings to light up.
  • Deep breaths help you to relax and focus on the present moment. Close your eyes and take ten slow deep breaths in and let them out slowly too.
  • Discuss your feelings with others; the good, the bad and the ugly. Getting it off your chest may help you from choosing to pick up that first cigarette and start again.

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