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Tobacco Abuse
 by Melissa
 Age 17

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Photo of Melissa
     Melissa, Age 17

What is Tobacco?
Tobacco is the dried leaves of a plant that grow in many parts of the world. Tobacco contains a variety of different chemicals, including nicotine which is a drug with a mild stimulant effect (the chemical which cause users to become addicted). Most tobacco is sold in the form of cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco.

Tobacco use is the most popular form of substance abuse used by us teenagers worldwide. The question is, why? Tobacco use has so many harmful affects that you would think we would steer away from smoking. However, smoking has become one of the most popular drugs put out there for us teenagers to use, and yes, tobacco is a drug. Us teenagers must become aware of what Cigarettes are made of, and the terrible harm that smoking can do to our well being. Hopefully this web site will do just that. So please continue reading! It is only after teenagers become aware of the problems that the abuse may stop, and the prevention may continue.

Why We Should Not Smoke (Short Term Effects):

Tobacco smoke consists of tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide and other gases. The amount of nicotine and other substances that is absorbed through the lungs depends on how much of the smoke is inhaled. Nicotine is a stimulant and users feel that tobacco helps them relieve boredom, tiredness and also helps them reduce stress and anxiety. The effects are almost immediate but fade quickly, which encourages constant use. Some people may experience nausea and dizziness when they inhale tobacco smoke. While the user may believe that the smoking is helping their emotional stress and anxiety, they are only harming themselves in the long run. Many users of tobacco are also worried that if they do quit they will be subject to weight gain. The media has brought upon the thought that being as thin as models on magazine covers is healthy (see Eating Disorders) , but on the contrary this is very unhealthy, another reason to stop smoking! Gaining weight is not a health problem, it is the thinness and the smoking that will cause the harmful effects.
Tobacco Abuse graphic
   M. Brink. "Tobacco." Substance Abuse.

Why We Should Not Smoke (Long Term Effects):
  • More than 144,000 women die every year from smoking-related diseases.
  • Smoking causes 20 percent of all deaths in the United States each year.
  • Lung cancer has become the leading cause of cancer death among women (this has increased nearly 400% in the past 20 years). Smoking can cause:
  • Diminished or extinguished sense of smell and taste.
  • Frequent colds, smoker's cough, and chronic bronchitis.
  • Gastric ulcers.
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Premature and more abundant face wrinkles.
  • Emphysema, heart disease, strokes.
  • Cancers of the Mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, lungs, pancreas, cervix, uterus and bladder.
  • Among teenagers, smoking increases problems from asthma, and the respiratory problems associated with smoking are more pronounced in asthmatics. Asthma has been found to be more common in 11 to 16 year-olds who smoke, and the progress of asthma throughout childhood and early adulthood does not improve as greatly in smokers than in non-smokers. (Also see Statistics, below)

The most serious health hazard of tobacco for youth is addiction and its long-term effects. Although lack of research makes it difficult to say with certainty how quickly nicotine addiction develops in young tobacco users, existing evidence indicates that most smokers become addicted while still in adolescence. This addiction results in an increased risk of developing and prematurely dying from tobacco-related diseases. The more a person smokes/the longer a person smokes, the more likely they are to suffer from sicknesses. Smoking releases epinephrine, a hormone which creates physiological stress in the smoker, rather than relaxation. The addictive quality of the drug makes the user feel he must smoke more to calm down, when in effect the smoking itself is causing the agitation. Therefore tobacco is likely to cause physical and psychological dependency in a short space of time if it is smoked regularly. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have smaller babies and run a bigger risk of losing the child. This is why it is strongly encouraged to STOP SMOKING! When you stop, the chances of developing cancer and heart disease is immediately decreased. After a number of years, the risk of a person who has stopped smoking is the same as a person who has never smoked. However, it is even more strongly encouraged to not even start. If you never start you are not putting yourself in danger, and you do not have to put yourself through withdrawal when you quit.

Symptoms of Withdrawal (Why we should never start smoking to begin with!):
Physical withdrawal symptoms include changes in: body temperature, heart rate, digestion, muscle tone and appetite. Psychological withdrawal symptoms include: irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, nervousness, headaches, fatigue, nausea and cravings for tobacco that can last days, weeks, months, years, or an entire lifetime.

Statistics & Why Women Smoke Next >>