Tobacco

Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves that are smoked, chewed, or sniffed fora variety of effects. It is considered an addictive substance because itcontains the chemical nicotine. The tobacco plant is believed to have originatedin the Western Hemisphere. The cultivated species most often grown for NorthAmerican and European tobacco products is Nicotine Tabacum. The leaves of theplant are prepared for smoking, chewing, or sniffing. In addition nicotinetobacco contains over 45 carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals.

Prior toEuropean influence in the Americas, the Indians of Mexico and Peru used tobaccofor the ceremonies, medical purposes and to alleviate hunger pains duringfamines. Columbus is credited with introducing tobacco into Europe. Tobacco usebecame widely accepted by the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, andScandinavians. Explorers and sailors who became dependent upon tobacco beganplanting seeds at their ports of call, introducing the product into other partsof Europe and Asia. The colonist introduced tobacco on the American continent inthe early 1600’s. It became a major crop and trading commodity of the JamestownColony.

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Over the years tobacco has been claimed as a cure for a wide range ofailments with varying forms of administration. Its social importance also grewover the years, even the point of denoting the “modern women” duringthe 1st part of the twentieth century. It was not until the 1960’s, with theintroduction of medical research related to cigarette smoking that the adversehealth effects of the tobacco became widely publicized.

Unfortunately, most ofthe health hazards were only associated with cigarette smoking. While the numberof cigarette smokers in the United States has continually decreased over recentyears the number of smokeless tobacco users has steadily increased. Since the1970’s a 15-fold increase in smokeless tobacco has been noted in adolescents 17to 19 years old. This has most likely been related to the emphasis on smoke freeenvironments, availability, increased advertising of smokeless products, and thefalse belief that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative for those convincedthey should stop smoking but who still want the nicotine effects of tobacco.Although over 40 million people in the United States have quit smoking, about 50million continue to smoke (about 25% of the population). Each year,approximately 1.

3 million Americans quit smoking. In addition about two thirdsof current smokers report they have never tried to quit. About 30 to 40% ofthose who have not tried to quit say they do not believe that the health risksof smoking will ultimately decrease their risks for disease. Young men are athighest risk for using tobacco products but the incidence in women isincreasing. Smokeless tobacco use patterns are higher within the followingoccupations; athletes, ranchers, farmers, fishermen, lumberjacks, and industrialworkers, who have jobs requiring hand freedom.

Nicotine has both stimulant anddepressant effects upon the body. Bowel tone and activity increases along withsaliva and bronchial secretions. Stimulation is followed with a phase thatdepresses the respiratory muscles.

As an euphoric agent, nicotine causes arousalas well as relaxation from stressful situations. On the average, tobacco useincreases the heart rate 10 to 20 beats per minute and it increases the bloodpressure reading by 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (because it constricts theblood vessels). Nicotine may also increase sweating, nausea and diarrhea becauseof its effects on the central nervous system. Nicotine’s effect upon hormonalactivities is also present.

It elevates the blood level of glucose and increasesinsulin production. Nicotine also tends to enhance platelet aggregation, whichmay lead to blood clotting. The positive effects of nicotine upon the bodyshould also be noted. It stimulates memory and alertness, enhancing cognitiveskills that requires speed, reaction time and work performance.

As amood-altering agent, it tends to alleviate boredom, reduces stress, and reducesaggressive responses to stressful events. It also tends to be an appetitesuppressant specifically decreasing the appetite for simple carbohydrates anddisturbs the efficiency with which food is metabolized. People who use tobaccoproducts frequently depend upon it to provide these side effects to help themaccomplish certain tasks at specific levels. With all the information that isout today why do people continue to smoke? Since 1964, the Surgeon General haswarned that smoking is a health hazard this announcement promoted the U.

S.Public Health Service and The American Cancer Society to publicize the dangersof tobacco smoking, and offer suggestions to those trying to quit. Cigarettepackages were required to carry the warning ” may be hazardous tohealth.

” Later the wording was strengthened to read ” Smoking isDangerous to Your Health.” The reason cigarette smokers do not give up thisharmful habit easily is simple; Nicotine is a highly addictive substance likemany other drugs. Smokers are hooked as surely as is any heroin or cocaineaddict; giving up cigarettes creates painful withdrawal symptoms and a cravingthat many people cannot overcome. The Public Health Service has declaredcigarettes and tobacco to be our most common form of drug dependency.Researchers discovered that nicotine is carried to the brain via the bloodstreamwithin 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 thatnicotine is a deadly poison. They use a concentrated spray of the chemical,extracted from tobacco leaves as a potent insecticide. In humans, nicotineconstricts the blood vessels, decreasing blood circulation to the skin and vitalorgans.

Long term smokers tend to look much older than non-smokers- a result ofthe contraction of the capillaries on the skins surface, which preventsabsorption of tissue building nutrients. Furthermore, smokers afflicted witharterial hardening and cholesterol deposits suffer a significantly higher numberof heart attacks than non-smokers. The damaged blood vessels give way sooner,when shriveled by nicotine. Until the early 1900’s tobacco was usually chewed,inhaled as snuff, or smoked in cigars and pipes without being inhaled. In otherwords, nicotine was being absorbed into the bloodstream through the membranes ofthe mouth, nose, and bronchial passages, not through the lungs.

The invention ofcigarette paper and automatic rolling machinery changed all that, and soontobacco users were puffing away on white wrapped sticks of tobacco. Thisintroduced new toxins deep into the body, known collectively as “tar”.These toxins are byproducts of the combustion of paper, tobacco, and chemicalsin tobacco processing. The most lethal byproduct inhaled from burning tobacco isbenzopyrene; a carcinogenic chemical also emitted by automobile exhaust pipesand factory smokestacks. In numerous tests, benzopyrene has been applied to therespiratory tracts of laboratory animals, and has usually resulted in malignanttumors. The leading killer among all forms of cancers, lung cancer currentlyclaims about 140,000 victims annually. The American Cancer Society estimatesthat 87% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided if only people would stopsmoking.

Lung cancer isn’t the only concern. The chemical irritants absorbedinto the blood are excreted almost unchanged in the urine, and they can lead tothe development of cancer of the kidneys, prostate glands, and bladder. The last10 years have seen a shift inner awareness of the dangers of smoking. While wehave known for three decades that smoking is a leading cause of cancer death, wehave finally acknowledged that second hand smoke can cause the same problems asfirsthand smoke. In early 1993, in fact, the EPA classified second hand smoke aClass A carcinogen. That label means Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is everybit as potent as arsenic, asbestos, and radon in its ability to cause cancer.

In1988, following years of study, the Surgeon General stated that sidetream smokecould 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 disease. It is easy to see whytobacco smoke is so deadly. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals and at least45 of its ingredients are known or suspected to be cancer causing. But what istruly alarming is that secondhand smoke contains greater concentrations ofcertain carcinogens than primary smoke.

It also contains greater amounts ofnicotine and tar, both strong and addictive toxins. The first interview I hadconducted was with my grandmother who happily admits she has never been a smokeror tobacco user. Even though she has never used tobacco, she has firsthandexperiences of what tobacco can do to a person and their family. The first storyshe told me was about how her husband and my grandfather, needed to have tripleby-pass surgery. The surgery was performed in the spring of 1991 and wassuccessful; my grandfather still lives today. The doctor had told him that hissmoking over the last 40 years was one of the biggest factors that made him needthe surgery.

My grandfather has since quit, but will be on medication for therest of his life. The second story my grandmother had told me did not have sucha happy ending. Her sister was only 52 years old when she was diagnosed withemphysema. The contributing factors were obvious, it was tobacco use. She satand told me the stories of how she would sit by her sister’s side feelinghelpless because they were told that nothing could be done. My grandmother saidof 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 hadbeen smoking for so long. After a period of time the emphysema finally killed myaunt and left her husband, two children and many family members behind. Thesewere two stories with different endings that my grandmother will never forget.

Stories like these should make society realize that tobacco is not a personalproblem, it is a global problem. Everyone is affected by tobacco smoke, and itis time we all should get the proper education to learn about the dangers ofcigarette smoke. More Americans are deciding to quit smoking due to its negativeeffects on their health, so the tobacco companies must find new ways to markettheir products. 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 neversmoke.

The tobacco companies know this, so they target these children throughadvertisements. They also target the women more because women are more likely tobe influenced than men are. The third most targeted population is the minoritygroup. Currently in the United States the minorities’ make-up 25% of ourpopulation, this is a lot of people with a lot of money to spend on tobaccoproducts. Tobacco companies spend $700,000 an hour trying to convince peoplesmoking is fun and exciting. These companies need to recruit 5,000 new smokerseach day, because 1,000 smokers will die and another 4,000 smokers quit eachday. There are a lot of different methods that these advertisements companiesuse: 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, andsporting events to make smoking look like winners. They use cartoon charactersso young people will recognize their brands and they also try to use “freestuff” coupons so you buy more cigarettes. With all this advertisement howcan we prevent our children from smoking? The Federal Government along withstate and local government have started their war with these tobacco companies.

They are trying to educate students on the dangers of smoking, through healtheducators and programs such as D.A.R.E. They have also used the same advertisingtechniques as tobacco companies, with their own anti-smoking campaign. Exceptthey make smoking look terrible and show that to be a real winner you don’t needto smoke. What about all these people who are currently addicted and want toquit smoking, what are we to do as health professionals? Numbers show there is ahigh percentage of American adults that want to quit smoking but just can’t.Like other addictive behaviors, tobacco use is difficult to stop and maintain,particularly if acting alone.

The best success in quitting has been noted withcomprehensive programs that may combine various strategies including education,peer support, behavior recognition, behavior modification methods, recognitionof potential relapse situations, and strategies for confronting such situations.Medications that are nicotine substitutes, such as transdermal nicotine ornicotine chewing gum may be used but their effectiveness ranges between 25%-40%.There are also alternative methods such as hypnosis, acupuncture, or even coldturkey. Anyone of these methods can work with the proper support and totalmindset upon quitting. The benefits of quitting are almost instant. Within 20minutes blood pressure and pulse rate drop, body temperature of extremitiesincrease to normal.

Within 8 hours, risk of sudden heart attack decreases. After48 hours nerve endings begin to regenerate and sense of smell and taste begin toreturn to normal. Between 2 weeks and 3 months of quitting, circulation improvesand walking becomes easier. Lung function increases up to 30%. These benefitswill increase the longer the person has not smoked. Given all the dangers ofcigarette smoking it is not surprising that many states have taken legal actionto protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. More than 40 states and at least480 communities have passed legislation to restrict smoking in public places. Amajority of companies now have smoking policies that restrict or ban smoking inthe workplace.

We spend some 22 billion a year on medical care related tosmoking, and lost productivity exceeds another 43 billion a year. As of 1986smokeless tobacco commercials were banned from TV and radio. As of 1987smokeless tobacco companies were required to have warning labels on them. Thesecond interview I had conducted was with the Chief of City 1 Tobacco ControlOffice, person 1. He told me about all the consequences and adverse effects thattobacco will produce, but more importantly we talked about what this city isdoing to stop tobacco use among the people who live here. The city’s firstrequirement is that all tobacco sellers need to have a tobacco permit, thisallows the city to monitor the tobacco in the city. This also allows the tobaccocontrol office to set up a database for compliance checks.

These compliancechecks will test stores for sale to minors and for signage in the stores. Theyhave 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 toeducate children on the dangers of tobacco. These programs and ordinances worktogether to slow down tobacco use in this city. I have stated facts and figureson tobacco and the society it affects. This is a problem that people on alllevels 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 donot smoke healthy.

Most importantly parents and all adults need to show childrenthat smoking is dangerous, by not smoking ourselves. By everyone doing a littlesomething to help this alleviate problem we can make our environment a muchhealthier place to live. There are billions of dollars invested in health carecessation programs, education, and prevention. Tobacco affects everyone; even ifyou 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 financiallyacceptable would be banned by now.

Everyone has a reason to help in this causewhether it is global warming, pollution, taxes, or pain and suffering. Oursociety has been kept in the dark to long, and it is time we all fight to takeback what is ours “HEALTH”.