By| Published: May 31st, 2017
Tobacco was introduced to India by the Portuguese traders, mainly in the form of Hookah. The most ordinary form of Tobacco consumption that we know is Cigarettes. In India, tobacco is consumed in some or the form by both the genders regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Ancient classic literature has also called tobacco as medicinal plant, its benefits being smooth intestinal functioning, relieving toothaches, cure itching skin, and treatment of scorpion bites. However, the tobacco plant contains harmful chemicals, and the deadliest being nicotine.
How Does Nicotine Work?
- On inhaling nicotine, our body releases the hormone epinephrine
- Epinephrine is the ‘fight or flight’ hormone that activates our sympathetic nervous system
- This makes our breath rapid and shallow, increases the heart rate and blood pressure
- This is how nicotine brings in alertness and takes away the unpleasant feelings
Different Forms of Tobacco Consumption?
Tobacco consumed in the form of smoking, chewing and sniffing vary in their nicotine content and affects various parts of the body.
- Cigarette: The most generic form that contains tobacco leaves, nicotine and other harmful chemicals. The body part affected is lung, as the smoke in inhaled inside and increasing the risk of lung cancer and affects the respiratory system of our body
- Cigars: These are tightly rolled, cured tobacco leaves in a leaf wrapper that is not usually inhaled into the lungs. They affect the mouth and neck and increasing the risk of mouth and neck cancers than lung cancer
- Hookah: One of the forms that is thought to be harmless, but has been known to cause lung cancer.
- E-cigarettes: It is considered as an alternative to cigarette because it does not contain tobacco. However, it and contains nicotine and its safety has not been proved yet. The health risks associated are same as those due to cigarette
- Chewing tobacco: Commonly available in the form of loose leaves is chewed and the juices are either spitted out or even swallowed by few. It mainly affects the teeth and gums and increases the risk of mouth cancers
- Snuff: Tobacco is finely ground and sniffed. The moist form of snuff is placed in the mouth and absorbed slowly. The exact reason is not known, but this form affects the teeth, gums, and the heart too
- Secondhand smoke: Inhaling secondhand smoke is no less than smoking. The amount of nicotine intake from secondhand smoke is enough to trigger the brain, release epinephrine and increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancers, respiratory diseases, heart diseases and sudden infant death syndrome (due to smoking by women during pregnancy
Why Smokers Smoke?
The way nicotine acts on our body leads to addiction. Read further and know the mechanism
- Cigarette contains nicotine
- The nicotine acts on the brain and central nervous system by releasing dopamine and giving the user a pleasant feeling
- Eventually the body adapts to nicotine, becomes tolerant and asks for more nicotine
- Not smoking immediately leads to withdrawal symptoms
- This leads the user to smoke more frequently and results in an addiction
Since we know that tobacco in any form is enormously harmful and that there is no safe way to consume tobacco; this World No Tobacco Day, let us create awareness to protect health, reduce poverty and promote development.