Tobacco is closely related to garden vegetables, flowers, weeds, and poisonous
herbs. Common plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, petunias,
jimson wood, ground cherries, and nightshade, as well as tobacco, are of
the family of plants called Solanaceae. The genus (sub-group of
Solanaceae) Nicotiana contains about 100 species, only two of which have
been extensively cultivated for use in tobacco products. Of those two,
Nicotiana tabacam, is the type of tobacco used today in smoking and
chewing tobacco and it is the predominant variety of crop tobacco. The
active ingredient, and the addictive substance, in tobacco of any form
Experts believe that, as early as 6000 B.C., the tobacco
plant, as we know it today, began growing in the Americas. Throughout
the 16th and 17th centuries tobacco proliferated
throughout Europe and Asia. Although the negative health effects of
tobacco were documented as early as 1600, it was not until the 1950s
that the United States began regulating tobacco advertising and sales.
Only recently has there been a widespread realization of the dangers of
long-term tobacco use.
Tobacco is available in a number of forms including snuff, chewing
tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars and cigarettes. Tobacco is either chewed,
in the case of snuff and chewing tobacco, or smoked in a pipe, cigar or
Nicotine is a stimulant and smokers feel that tobacco helps relieve
boredom and tiredness and also helps reduce stress and anxiety. The
effects are almost immediate but fade quickly, which encourages
continual use. Some people may experience nausea and dizziness when they
inhale tobacco smoke for the first few times.
Tobacco use has been conclusively linked to health problems
including, but not limited to, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, blood
clots, cancer, bronchitis, poor circulation and ulcers.
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the
United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths each year and resulting
in an annual cost of more than $50 billion in direct medical costs. Each
year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol abuse, drug abuse,
car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires combined.
Source: Center for Disease Control
Physical Dependence: Moderate to severe
Psychological Dependence: Moderate
Tolerance: Moderate to strong
Many more treatment facilities are beginning to institute
short-term, or weekend, smoking-cessation programs. Contact the centers
listed below for information on such programs.