Tobacco Smoking Essay, Research Paper
Tobacco is a substance consisting of the dried leaves and stems of the plant Nicotinia tabacum, which contains the drug
nicotine. The plant is native to North America, but now is grown around the world. Nicotine is a powerful nerve stimulant and
is extremely toxic. Two to three drops of pure nicotine, if taken all at once, are enough to kill the average person. Nicotine has
been classified as the most addictive drug in existence.
There are three principal ways to consume tobacco: smoking, chewing and dipping, and snuffing. All three ways produce
approximately equal blood nicotine levels in tobacco users.
SMOKING has been identified as the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.
Approximately 50 million Americans smoke. They consume about 540 billion cigarettes each year, and each year
approximately 390,000 people die from smoking-related causes. Cigarette smoke contains more than 300 known
poisons, including such deadly substances as nicotine, arsenic, cyanide, carbon monoxide, phenol and
formaldehyde. Cigarette smoking is such an enticing habit that few smokers realize they are addicted – until they
CHEWING looseleaf tobacco and “DIPPING” moist, ground snuff tobacco are two common ways to use tobacco without
smoking. There are as many as 12 million chewers and dippers in the United States who consume smokeless tobacco – many
under the mistaken impression that it is safer than cigarette smoking. Smokeless tobacco contains powerful chemicals, including
nicotine, nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and dozens of other carcinogens, that can injure tissues in the mouth
Despite users’ erroneous impressions about differing health risks in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, the health risks
presented by smokeless tobacco use are substantial, and cigarettes and smokeless tobacco cannot be meaningfully compared.
The Surgeon General has concluded that “the oral use of smokeless tobacco represents a significant health risk. It is not a safe
substitute for smoking cigarettes. It can cause cancer and a number of noncancerous oral conditions and can lead to nicotine
addiction and dependence.”
SNUFFING is a method of tobacco administration rarely employed in the United States today. In snuffing, a dry powdered
tobacco is “snorted” and brought into contact with the nasal passageways, and the nicotine is absorbed through the epithelium
in the upper nasal passages.
“Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality in the United States,” according to the Surgeon General. An
estimated 30 percent of cancer deaths in the United States are linked to smoking. These deaths are due mostly to lung cancer,
but include cancers of the larynx and oral cavity, esophagus, bladder and kidney, pancreas, stomach and uterine cervix. Many
people fail to recognize the traumatic effect that cigarette smoke and nicotine have on the circulatory system. Cardiovascular
problems such as high-blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and circulatory deficiencies are common in cigarette smokers,
resulting in over 170,000 deaths each year in the United States. Chronic obstructive lung diseases such as emphysema and
chronic bronchitis are 10 times more likely to occur in smokers than in non-smokers. Smoking during pregnancy also poses
serious risks. Spontaneous abortion, preterm birth, low birth weights, and fetal and infant deaths all are more likely to occur
when a pregnant woman smokes.
Use of smokeless tobacco causes serious oral health problems, such as oral cancers, leukoplakia, enamel erosion and tooth
loss, gingivitis, halitosis and gum ulcers. Because nicotine is present in smokeless tobacco, all the cardiovascular problems
associated with cigarette smoking can develop as well.
ENVIRONMENTAL TOBACCO SMOKE — commonly referred to as “second-hand smoke” — is the nation’s No. 1
airborne carcinogen, killing more people than all other forms of air pollution combined. This involuntary smoke is a cause of
disease, including lung cancer in healthy non-smokers. Many workplaces and other businesses that serve the public are now
considering smoking-control ordinances to protect the health of non-smokers.
Children of smokers, forced to breathe second-hand smoke, have more respiratory problems and miss more school than do
children of non-smokers. It is estimated that smokers’ children miss about three additional days of school per year, the
equivalent of seven weeks of school over the 12 years of primary and secondary schooling, due to exposure to cigarette
smoke in the home.
The fact that smoking cigarettes interferes with one’s sense of smell is well known, but now researchers know how serious this
effect can be. A University of Pennsylvania study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that smokers lose
15 to 20 percent of their sense of smell – enough to keep them from detecting low concentrations of leaking gas. The study
estimated that it is not until 10 years after quitting smoking that the sense of smell returns to its pre-smoking level.
It is never too late to quit smoking. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1990
concluded: 1) smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits for persons of all ages and provides benefits for
persons with and without smoking-related disease; 2) former smokers live longer than continuing smokers; 3) smoking
cessation decreases the risk for lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease;
4) women who stop smoking before pregnancy or during the first three to four months of pregnancy reduce their risk for
having a low-birth-weight infant to the same level of risk for women who never smoked; and 5) the health benefits of smoking
cessation substantially exceed any risks from the average 5-pound weight gain or any adverse psychologic effects that may
Indiana law defines “tobacco” as chewing tobacco; cigars, cigarettes, and snuff that contain tobacco; and pipe tobacco.
A person less than 18 years of age who purchases tobacco or accepts tobacco for personal use commits a Class C infraction,
for which the usual sentence is a maximum $500 fine.
A person who knowingly sells or distributes tobacco to a person less than 18 years of age also commits a Class C infraction.
It is illegal to sell tobacco via vending machines in Indiana, unless the vending machine is located in an area unaccessible to
persons under the age of 18. Restaurants, for example cannot have cigarette vending machines, except in a bar area that is
restricted from entry by minors. Violating this law is also a Class C infraction.
Federal law requires a rotating system of warnings on cigarette packages and advertising. Brands must rotate warnings every
three months, so four warnings appear in a year. The current warnings begin with “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING,”
and are followed with: 1) “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy,” 2)
“Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight,” 3) “Cigarette Smoke
Contains Carbon Monoxide,” or 4) “Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.”
All smokeless tobacco packages and advertising must display one of three rotating health warnings, which are: 1) “Warning:
This product may cause mouth cancer,” 2) “Warning: This product may cause gum disease and tooth loss,” and 3) “Warning:
This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.