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Tobacco Essay, Research Paper

Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves that are smoked, chewed, or

sniffed for a variety of effects. It is considered an addictive substance

because it contains the chemical nicotine.

The tobacco plant is believed to have originated in the Western

Hemisphere. The cultivated species most often grown for North American and

European tobacco products is Nicotine Tabacum. The leaves of the plant are

prepared for smoking, chewing, or sniffing. In addition nicotine tobacco

contains over 45 carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals.

Prior to European influence in the Americas, the Indians of Mexico and

Peru used tobacco for the ceremonies, medical purposes and to alleviate

hunger pains during famines. Columbus is credited with introducing tobacco

into Europe. Tobacco use became widely accepted by the Portuguese, Spanish,

French, British, and Scandinavians. Explorers and sailors who became

dependent upon tobacco began planting seeds at their ports of call,

introducing the product into other parts of Europe and Asia.

The colonist introduced tobacco on the American continent in the early

1600’s. It became a major crop and trading commodity of the Jamestown

Colony. Over the years tobacco has been claimed as a cure for a wide range of

ailments with varying forms of administration. Its social importance also

grew over the years, even the point of denoting the “modern women” during the

1st part of the twentieth century.

It was not until the 1960’s, with the introduction of medical research

related to cigarette smoking that the adverse health effects of the tobacco

became widely publicized. Unfortunately, most of the health hazards were only

associated with cigarette smoking. While the number of cigarette smokers in

the United States has continually decreased over recent years the number of

smokeless tobacco users has steadily increased. Since the 1970’s a 15-fold

increase in smokeless tobacco has been noted in adolescents 17 to 19 years

old. This has most likely been related to the emphasis on smoke free

environments, availability, increased advertising of smokeless products, and

the false belief that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative for those

convinced they should stop smoking but who still want the nicotine effects of


Although over 40 million people in the United States have quit

smoking, about 50 million continue to smoke (about 25% of the population).

Each year, approximately 1.3 million Americans quit smoking. In addition

about two thirds of current smokers report they have never tried to quit.

About 30 to 40% of those who have not tried to quit say they do not believe

that the health risks of smoking will ultimately decrease their risks for


Young men are at highest risk for using tobacco products but the

incidence in women is increasing. Smokeless tobacco use patterns are higher

within the following occupations; athletes, ranchers, farmers, fishermen,

lumberjacks, and industrial workers, who have jobs requiring hand freedom.

Nicotine has both stimulant and depressant effects upon the body.

Bowel tone and activity increases along with saliva and bronchial secretions.

Stimulation is followed with a phase that depresses the respiratory muscles.

As an euphoric agent, nicotine causes arousal as well as relaxation from

stressful situations. On the average, tobacco use increases the heart rate 10

to 20 beats per minute and it increases the blood pressure reading by 5 to 10

millimeters of mercury (because it constricts the blood vessels). Nicotine

may also increase sweating, nausea and diarrhea because of its effects on the

central nervous system. Nicotine’s effect upon hormonal activities is also

present. It elevates the blood level of glucose and increases insulin

production. Nicotine also tends to enhance platelet aggregation, which may

lead to blood clotting.

The positive effects of nicotine upon the body should also be noted.

It stimulates memory and alertness, enhancing cognitive skills that requires

speed, reaction time and work performance. As a mood-altering agent, it tends

to alleviate boredom, reduces stress, and reduces aggressive responses to

stressful events. It also tends to be an appetite suppressant specifically

decreasing the appetite for simple carbohydrates and disturbs the efficiency

with which food is metabolized. People who use tobacco products frequently

depend upon it to provide these side effects to help them accomplish certain

tasks at specific levels.

With all the information that is out today why do people continue to

smoke? Since 1964, the Surgeon General has warned that smoking is a health

hazard this announcement promoted the U.S. Public Health Service and The

American Cancer Society to publicize the dangers of tobacco smoking, and

offer suggestions to those trying to quit. Cigarette packages were required

to carry the warning ” may be hazardous to health.” Later the wording was

strengthened to read ” Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health.”

The reason cigarette smokers do not give up this harmful habit easily is

simple; Nicotine is a highly addictive substance like many other drugs.

Smokers are hooked as surely as is any heroin or cocaine addict; giving up

cigarettes creates painful withdrawal symptoms and a craving that many people

cannot overcome. The Public Health Service has declared cigarettes and

tobacco to be our most common form of drug dependency.

Researchers discovered that nicotine is carried to the brain via the

bloodstream within a minute or two of smoking; it’s then eliminated about a

half-hour later, and then the craving returns. Scientists and farmers have

long known that nicotine is a deadly poison. They use a concentrated spray

of the chemical, extracted from tobacco leaves as a potent insecticide. In

humans, nicotine constricts the blood vessels, decreasing blood circulation

to the skin and vital organs. Long term smokers tend to look much older than

non-smokers- a result of the contraction of the capillaries on the skins

surface, which prevents absorption of tissue building nutrients.

Furthermore, smokers afflicted with arterial hardening and cholesterol

deposits suffer a significantly higher number of heart attacks than

non-smokers. The damaged blood vessels give way sooner, when shriveled by


Until the early 1900’s tobacco was usually chewed, inhaled as snuff,

or smoked in cigars and pipes without being inhaled. In other words,

nicotine was being absorbed into the bloodstream through the membranes of the

mouth, nose, and bronchial passages, not through the lungs. The invention of

cigarette paper and automatic rolling machinery changed all that, and soon

tobacco users were puffing away on white wrapped sticks of tobacco. This

introduced new toxins deep into the body, known collectively as “tar”. These

toxins are byproducts of the combustion of paper, tobacco, and chemicals in

tobacco processing.

The most lethal byproduct inhaled from burning tobacco is benzopyrene;

a carcinogenic chemical also emitted by automobile exhaust pipes and factory

smokestacks. In numerous tests, benzopyrene has been applied to the

respiratory tracts of laboratory animals, and has usually resulted in

malignant tumors.

The leading killer among all forms of cancers, lung cancer currently

claims about 140,000 victims annually. The American Cancer Society estimates

that 87% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided if only people would stop

smoking. Lung cancer isn’t the only concern. The chemical irritants

absorbed into the blood are excreted almost unchanged in the urine, and they

can lead to the development of cancer of the kidneys, prostate glands, and


The last 10 years have seen a shift inner awareness of the dangers of

smoking. While we have known for three decades that smoking is a leading

cause of cancer death, we have finally acknowledged that second hand smoke

can cause the same problems as firsthand smoke. In early 1993, in fact, the

EPA classified second hand smoke a Class A carcinogen. That label means

Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is every bit as potent as arsenic,

asbestos, and radon in its ability to cause cancer.

In 1988, following years of study, the Surgeon General stated that

sidetream smoke could be deadly for non-smokers. In addition to causing

respiratory problems, ETS is responsible for 3,000 to 5,000 lung cancer

deaths a year in non-smokers, as well as 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from heart


It is easy to see why tobacco smoke is so deadly. It contains more

than 4,000 chemicals and at least 45 of its ingredients are known or

suspected to be cancer causing. But what is truly alarming is that

secondhand smoke contains greater concentrations of certain carcinogens than

primary smoke. It also contains greater amounts of nicotine and tar, both

strong and addictive toxins.

The first interview I had conducted was with my grandmother who

happily admits she has never been a smoker or tobacco user. Even though she

has never used tobacco, she has firsthand experiences of what tobacco can do

to a person and their family. The first story she told me was about how her

husband and my grandfather, needed to have triple by-pass surgery. The

surgery was performed in the spring of 1991 and was successful; my

grandfather still lives today. The doctor had told him that his smoking over

the last 40 years was one of the biggest factors that made him need the

surgery. My grandfather has since quit, but will be on medication for the

rest of his life.

The second story my grandmother had told me did not have such a happy

ending. Her sister was only 52 years old when she was diagnosed with

emphysema. The contributing factors were obvious, it was tobacco use. She

sat and told me the stories of how she would sit by her sister’s side feeling

helpless because they were told that nothing could be done. My grandmother

said of how her sister wished she knew the dangers of smoking when she was

younger; because by the time she had found out she had no desire to quit

because she had been smoking for so long. After a period of time the

emphysema finally killed my aunt and left her husband, two children and many

family members behind. These were two stories with different endings that my

grandmother will never forget. Stories like these should make society realize

that tobacco is not a personal problem, it is a global problem. Everyone is

affected by tobacco smoke, and it is time we all should get the proper

education to learn about the dangers of cigarette smoke.

More Americans are deciding to quit smoking due to its negative effects

on their health, so the tobacco companies must find new ways to market their


Studies show that most smokers start smoking as teens (80% before the

age of 18) and if they don’t start then, they will probably never smoke. The

tobacco companies know this, so they target these children through

advertisements. They also target the women more because women are more

likely to be influenced than men are. The third most targeted population is

the minority group. Currently in the United States the minorities’ make-up

25% of our population, this is a lot of people with a lot of money to spend

on tobacco products.

Tobacco companies spend $700,000 an hour trying to convince people

smoking is fun and exciting. These companies need to recruit 5,000 new

smokers each day, because 1,000 smokers will die and another 4,000 smokers

quit each day. There are a lot of different methods that these

advertisements companies use: such as using good looking models to make

smoking look fun and exciting. They put ads in magazines and on billboards,

they sponsor car races, rodeos, and sporting events to make smoking look like

winners. They use cartoon characters so young people will recognize their

brands and they also try to use “free stuff” coupons so you buy more

cigarettes. With all this advertisement how can we prevent our children from


The Federal Government along with state and local government have

started their war with these tobacco companies. They are trying to educate

students on the dangers of smoking, through health educators and programs

such as D.A.R.E. They have also used the same advertising techniques as

tobacco companies, with their own anti-smoking campaign. Except they make

smoking look terrible and show that to be a real winner you don’t need to


What about all these people who are currently addicted and want to

quit smoking, what are we to do as health professionals? Numbers show there

is a high percentage of American adults that want to quit smoking but just


Like other addictive behaviors, tobacco use is difficult to stop and

maintain, particularly if acting alone. The best success in quitting has been

noted with comprehensive programs that may combine various strategies

including education, peer support, behavior recognition, behavior

modification methods, recognition of potential relapse situations, and

strategies for confronting such situations.

Medications that are nicotine substitutes, such as transdermal nicotine

or nicotine chewing gum may be used but their effectiveness ranges between

25%-40%. There are also alternative methods such as hypnosis, acupuncture, or

even cold turkey. Anyone of these methods can work with the proper support

and total mindset upon quitting.

The benefits of quitting are almost instant. Within 20 minutes blood

pressure and pulse rate drop, body temperature of extremities increase to

normal. Within 8 hours, risk of sudden heart attack decreases. After 48 hours

nerve endings begin to regenerate and sense of smell and taste begin to

return to normal. Between 2 weeks and 3 months of quitting, circulation

improves and walking becomes easier. Lung function increases up to 30%. These

benefits will increase the longer the person has not smoked.

Given all the dangers of cigarette smoking it is not surprising that

many states have taken legal action to protect non-smokers from secondhand

smoke. More than 40 states and at least 480 communities have passed

legislation to restrict smoking in public places. A majority of companies now

have smoking policies that restrict or ban smoking in the workplace. We spend

some 22 billion a year on medical care related to smoking, and lost

productivity exceeds another 43 billion a year. As of 1986 smokeless tobacco

commercials were banned from TV and radio. As of 1987 smokeless tobacco

companies were required to have warning labels on them.

The second interview I had conducted was with the Chief of City 1

Tobacco Control Office, person 1. He told me about all the consequences and

adverse effects that tobacco will produce, but more importantly we talked

about what this city is doing to stop tobacco use among the people who live


The city’s first requirement is that all tobacco sellers need to have a

tobacco permit, this allows the city to monitor the tobacco in the city. This

also allows the tobacco control office to set up a database for compliance

checks. These compliance checks will test stores for sale to minors and for

signage in the stores. They have also created a new ordinance that will ban

smoking in all restaurants, effective July 1, . They also work in

conjunction with the D.A.R.E. program to educate children on the dangers of

tobacco. These programs and ordinances work together to slow down tobacco use

in this city.

I have stated facts and figures on tobacco and the society it affects.

This is a problem that people on all levels need to address. The government

needs to put an end to tobacco companies. Cities and states need to ban

smoking in all public places to keep those who do not smoke healthy. Most

importantly parents and all adults need to show children that smoking is

dangerous, by not smoking ourselves. By everyone doing a little something to

help this alleviate problem we can make our environment a much healthier

place to live.

There are billions of dollars invested in health care cessation

programs, education, and prevention. Tobacco affects everyone; even if you do

not smoke, all taxpayers are being affected and do not even realize it.

People are dying everyday from a drug that if not so socially and financially

acceptable would be banned by now. Everyone has a reason to help in this

cause whether it is global warming, pollution, taxes, or pain and suffering.

Our society has been kept in the dark to long, and it is time we all fight to

take back what is ours “HEALTH”.

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