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Tobacco – Understanding Addiction

  • Tobacco was one of the main things that Europe got from the New World, along with chocolate, sweet potatoes and corn.
  • Tobacco was used in two forms: snuff and smoked.
  • Tobacco had many early medical uses: from treating headaches to the common cold and other ailments of the time.
  • There are two main different types of Nicotiana: Nicotiana tobacum and Nicotiana rustica.  In Virginia, tobacum was found to grow well and became the colony’s main product in 1612.
  • Tobacco played a large role in the war.  From money to trade, tobacco was the turning point.
  • The method for administering nicotine also changed.  It went from snuff to smoking and chewing.
  • The regulation of tobacco happened as early as 1604 by King James of England.  While he published anti-tobacco information, he supported the growth of tobacco in Virginia.
  • In 1908 New York made it illegal for women to smoke in public.
  • In the 1930’s and 40’s reports of health risks came out. A 1952 Readers Digest printed “Cancer by the Carton”.
  • Filtered cigarettes were starting to be looked at as alternatives and marketed to make sure that everyone knew original cigarettes were “safe”.
  • Safer” cigarettes were filtered and lower in tar.  They were looked at as safer but not safe cigarettes.
  • Cigarettes makers looked at delivery devices that were even safer.  The problem became that if they went in a particular direction cigarettes were no longer a food and then would be regulated as a drug.  The companies stopped looking at the devices and looked toward less-smoke or smokeless cigarettes.
  • Smokeless tobacco became a popular alternative in the 1970’s due to the rising risks of lung cancer.
  • Once thought of as something just cowboys did, chewing tobacco grew until it became a public concern.  There are two different types of chew: loose-leaf and moist snuff.
  • Though chewing tobacco was not as unhealthy as smoking it, chewing tobacco still had risks.  An increased risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus as well as leukoplakia and other dental problems came with chewing tobacco.
  • There are a lot of causes for concern with the adverse health effects of tobacco. There are effects of tobacco without smoking the tobacco itself such as environmental tobacco smoke, sidestream smoke, passive smoke and even mainstream smoke.
  • There are effects on children of people who smoke.  They include low birth weight and Sudden Infant Death syndrome.
  • Nicotine is a liquid alkaloid that is colorless and volatile.  Tolerance develops quickly as dose-dependence on nicotine.
  • When smoked, 90% of inhaled nicotine is absorbed.
  • A lethal dose of nicotine is 60mg; death would follow quickly.
  • Enzymes in the liver help with the deactivation of nicotine in the body.
  • The elimination of deactivated nicotine is slowed by nicotine itself because of its affects on thehypothalamus.
  • Effects on the central nervous system by nicotine mimics acetylcholine.
  • With the continued occupation of receptors, nicotine blocks the transmission of information at the synapse while stimulating it.
  • Some of these receptors are found in the skin, tongue and large arteries.  Nausea, dizziness and feeling of illness are all the feeling of a person’s first smoke.  These are also the symptoms of low-level nicotine poisoning.
  • With acute poisoning, the cause of death is suffocation from paralysis of the respiratory muscles.  Another negative effect of nicotine is that it increases the tendency of the blood to clot.
  • Monotonous of the taste buds and a slight increase in blood sugar might be the basis for a decrease in hunger after smoking.
  • Regular smokers will have high levels of carboxyhemoglobin in their blood decreasing the oxygen-carrying ability of blood.
  • Nicotine is the driving force in tobacco that reinforces behavior.  Nicotine dependence was reinforced by the 1988 surgeon general’s report that stated that:
  1. Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting.
  2. Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes the addiction.
  3. The pharmacological and behavioral processes that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
  • Most new research is focused on the fact that nicotine affects dopamine.
  • There is a large reduction in one type of MAO in the brains of chronic nicotine smokers.  This slows the breakdown of dopamine henceforth enhancing the effect of the dopamine released by each nicotine dose.
  • Smoking is extremely hard to quit.  One reason might be the pure number of hits a pack-a-day smoker gets;annually hits total over 50,000.
  • Most can quit smoking for a few days but 70 to 80 percent will be smoking again in six months.
  • There are also drugs to help people quit.  Gum, and skin patches as well as pills are now available to help someone quit smoking.

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