Shortness of breath. Heart disease. Cancer. These are just a few of the health consequences of using tobacco products.17
Think they can't happen to you if you use tobacco? Guess again. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, you are at risk for any of these health consequences or diseases. Think you would quit before the consequences set in? Some of the effects happen fast. Young people who smoke report experiencing coughing, wheezing, and phlegm production. 18 If you currently smoke, this may all sound familiar. If you don't smoke, don't start - it's that simple!
Answer the question in the health test on the next several screens. Talk with your teacher about your responses. Then, read the follow-up information to learn more about the consequences of using tobacco products.
1) Using tobacco can cause me to have bad breath (halitosis), stained teeth, and _________.
2) If I smoke, I am at risk for the following disease(s):
3) If I smoke, the toxins released from cigarette smoke travel _________.
4) If I use a smokeless tobacco, I am at risk for the following disease(s):
5) In the U.S., ______ is the leading preventable cause of death.
6) Secondhand smoke exposure kills people in the U.S.
7) Throughout the world, tobacco use results in approximately _____deaths per year.
8) Nicotine is a chemical found in tobacco that is _________________.
Review your responses with your teacher. Then, on the next few pages, read selected excerpts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to better understand nicotine's addictive nature and how it affects the body19. See if you can answer the follow-up True/False questions.
Nicotine is the drug in tobacco leaves. Whether someone smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain.
A. Nicotine is a drug.
Nicotine raises the heart rate and respiration (breathing) rate, and causes more glucose, or blood sugar, to be released into the blood.
B. A person's blood sugar and breathing rate are both increased by nicotine.
Nicotine also attaches to neurons (brain cells) that release a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
C. Neurons are also referred to as dopamine.
Nicotine stimulates neurons to release unusually large amounts of dopamine. Dopamine stimulates the brain's pleasure and reward circuit, a group of brain structures called the limbic system involved in appetite, learning, memory, and feelings of pleasure.
D. The limbic system is the brain's pleasure and reward circuit.
In 40 minutes, half the effects of nicotine are gone. So smokers get the urge to light up for another dose of the drug. After repeated doses of nicotine, the brain changes. To adjust to too much dopamine, the brain cuts production of the neurotransmitter and reduces the number of some receptors. Now, the smoker needs nicotine just to create normal levels of dopamine in his or her brain. Without nicotine, the smoker feels irritable and depressed. The smoker has trained the limbic system to crave tobacco.
E. Without nicotine, a smoker feels happy and calm.
These changes in the brain and body make nicotine highly addictive. Other addictive drugs of abuse, including heroin and cocaine, cause the same changes in the brain.
F. Nicotine causes the same changes in the brain as heroin and cocaine.
For the complete National Institute on Drug Abuse article, check out:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Referenced 2017.https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; Washington, D.C., 2012. Referenced 2017.https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/full-report.pdf
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Referenced 2017.https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain