Essay, Research Paper: Tobacco

Alcohol and Drugs

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Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves that are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for
a variety of effects. It is considered an addictive substance because it
contains the chemical nicotine. The tobacco plant is believed to have originated
in the Western Hemisphere. The cultivated species most often grown for North
American and European tobacco products is Nicotine Tabacum. The leaves of the
plant are prepared for smoking, chewing, or sniffing. In addition nicotine
tobacco contains over 45 carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals. Prior to
European influence in the Americas, the Indians of Mexico and Peru used tobacco
for the ceremonies, medical purposes and to alleviate hunger pains during
famines. Columbus is credited with introducing tobacco into Europe. Tobacco use
became widely accepted by the Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, and
Scandinavians. Explorers and sailors who became dependent upon tobacco began
planting seeds at their ports of call, introducing the product into other parts
of Europe and Asia. The colonist introduced tobacco on the American continent in
the early 1600's. It became a major crop and trading commodity of the Jamestown
Colony. Over the years tobacco has been claimed as a cure for a wide range of
ailments with varying forms of administration. Its social importance also grew
over the years, even the point of denoting the "modern women" during
the 1st part of the twentieth century. It was not until the 1960's, with the
introduction of medical research related to cigarette smoking that the adverse
health effects of the tobacco became widely publicized. Unfortunately, most of
the health hazards were only associated with cigarette smoking. While the number
of cigarette smokers in the United States has continually decreased over recent
years the number of smokeless tobacco users has steadily increased. Since the
1970's a 15-fold increase in smokeless tobacco has been noted in adolescents 17
to 19 years old. This has most likely been related to the emphasis on smoke free
environments, availability, increased advertising of smokeless products, and the
false belief that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative for those convinced
they 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 50
million continue to smoke (about 25% of the population). Each year,
approximately 1.3 million Americans quit smoking. In addition about two thirds
of current smokers report they have never tried to quit. About 30 to 40% of
those who have not tried to quit say they do not believe that the health risks
of smoking will ultimately decrease their risks for disease. Young men are at
highest risk for using tobacco products but the incidence in women is
increasing. Smokeless tobacco use patterns are higher within the following
occupations; athletes, ranchers, farmers, fishermen, lumberjacks, and industrial
workers, who have jobs requiring hand freedom. Nicotine has both stimulant and
depressant effects upon the body. Bowel tone and activity increases along with
saliva and bronchial secretions. Stimulation is followed with a phase that
depresses the respiratory muscles. As an euphoric agent, nicotine causes arousal
as well as relaxation from stressful situations. On the average, tobacco use
increases the heart rate 10 to 20 beats per minute and it increases the blood
pressure reading by 5 to 10 millimeters of mercury (because it constricts the
blood vessels). Nicotine may also increase sweating, nausea and diarrhea because
of its effects on the central nervous system. Nicotine's effect upon hormonal
activities is also present. It elevates the blood level of glucose and increases
insulin production. Nicotine also tends to enhance platelet aggregation, which
may lead to blood clotting. The positive effects of nicotine upon the body
should also be noted. It stimulates memory and alertness, enhancing cognitive
skills that requires speed, reaction time and work performance. As a
mood-altering agent, it tends to alleviate boredom, reduces stress, and reduces
aggressive responses to stressful events. It also tends to be an appetite
suppressant specifically decreasing the appetite for simple carbohydrates and
disturbs the efficiency with which food is metabolized. People who use tobacco
products frequently depend upon it to provide these side effects to help them
accomplish certain tasks at specific levels. With all the information that is
out today why do people continue to smoke? Since 1964, the Surgeon General has
warned that smoking is a health hazard this announcement promoted the U.S.
Public Health Service and The American Cancer Society to publicize the dangers
of tobacco smoking, and offer suggestions to those trying to quit. Cigarette
packages were required to carry the warning " may be hazardous to
health." Later the wording was strengthened to read " Smoking is
Dangerous to Your Health." The reason cigarette smokers do not give up this
harmful habit easily is simple; Nicotine is a highly addictive substance like
many other drugs. Smokers are hooked as surely as is any heroin or cocaine
addict; giving up cigarettes creates painful withdrawal symptoms and a craving
that many people cannot overcome. The Public Health Service has declared
cigarettes and tobacco to be our most common form of drug dependency.
Researchers discovered that nicotine is carried to the brain via the bloodstream
within 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 that
nicotine is a deadly poison. They use a concentrated spray of the chemical,
extracted from tobacco leaves as a potent insecticide. In humans, nicotine
constricts the blood vessels, decreasing blood circulation to the skin and vital
organs. Long term smokers tend to look much older than non-smokers- a result of
the contraction of the capillaries on the skins surface, which prevents
absorption of tissue building nutrients. Furthermore, smokers afflicted with
arterial hardening and cholesterol deposits suffer a significantly higher number
of 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 other
words, nicotine was being absorbed into the bloodstream through the membranes of
the mouth, nose, and bronchial passages, not through the lungs. The invention of
cigarette paper and automatic rolling machinery changed all that, and soon
tobacco users were puffing away on white wrapped sticks of tobacco. This
introduced new toxins deep into the body, known collectively as "tar".
These toxins are byproducts of the combustion of paper, tobacco, and chemicals
in tobacco processing. The most lethal byproduct inhaled from burning tobacco is
benzopyrene; a carcinogenic chemical also emitted by automobile exhaust pipes
and factory smokestacks. In numerous tests, benzopyrene has been applied to the
respiratory tracts of laboratory animals, and has usually resulted in malignant
tumors. The leading killer among all forms of cancers, lung cancer currently
claims about 140,000 victims annually. The American Cancer Society estimates
that 87% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided if only people would stop
smoking. Lung cancer isn't the only concern. The chemical irritants absorbed
into the blood are excreted almost unchanged in the urine, and they can lead to
the development of cancer of the kidneys, prostate glands, and bladder. The last
10 years have seen a shift inner awareness of the dangers of smoking. While we
have known for three decades that smoking is a leading cause of cancer death, we
have finally acknowledged that second hand smoke can cause the same problems as
firsthand smoke. In early 1993, in fact, the EPA classified second hand smoke a
Class A carcinogen. That label means Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) is every
bit as potent as arsenic, asbestos, and radon in its ability to cause cancer. In
1988, following years of study, the Surgeon General stated that sidetream smoke
could 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 why
tobacco smoke is so deadly. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals and at least
45 of its ingredients are known or suspected to be cancer causing. But what is
truly alarming is that secondhand smoke contains greater concentrations of
certain carcinogens than primary smoke. It also contains greater amounts of
nicotine and tar, both strong and addictive toxins. The first interview I had
conducted was with my grandmother who happily admits she has never been a smoker
or tobacco user. Even though she has never used tobacco, she has firsthand
experiences of what tobacco can do to a person and their family. The first story
she told me was about how her husband and my grandfather, needed to have triple
by-pass surgery. The surgery was performed in the spring of 1991 and was
successful; my grandfather still lives today. The doctor had told him that his
smoking over the last 40 years was one of the biggest factors that made him need
the surgery. My grandfather has since quit, but will be on medication for the
rest of his life. The second story my grandmother had told me did not have such
a happy ending. Her sister was only 52 years old when she was diagnosed with
emphysema. The contributing factors were obvious, it was tobacco use. She sat
and told me the stories of how she would sit by her sister's side feeling
helpless because they were told that nothing could be done. My grandmother said
of 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 had
been smoking for so long. After a period of time the emphysema finally killed my
aunt and left her husband, two children and many family members behind. These
were two stories with different endings that my grandmother will never forget.
Stories like these should make society realize that tobacco is not a personal
problem, it is a global problem. Everyone is affected by tobacco smoke, and it
is time we all should get the proper education to learn about the dangers of
cigarette smoke. More Americans are deciding to quit smoking due to its negative
effects on their health, so the tobacco companies must find new ways to market
their 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 never
smoke. The tobacco companies know this, so they target these children through
advertisements. They also target the women more because women are more likely to
be influenced than men are. The third most targeted population is the minority
group. Currently in the United States the minorities' make-up 25% of our
population, this is a lot of people with a lot of money to spend on tobacco
products. Tobacco companies spend $700,000 an hour trying to convince people
smoking is fun and exciting. These companies need to recruit 5,000 new smokers
each day, because 1,000 smokers will die and another 4,000 smokers quit each
day. There are a lot of different methods that these advertisements companies
use: 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, and
sporting events to make smoking look like winners. They use cartoon characters
so young people will recognize their brands and they also try to use "free
stuff" coupons so you buy more cigarettes. With all this advertisement how
can we prevent our children from smoking? The Federal Government along with
state and local government have started their war with these tobacco companies.
They are trying to educate students on the dangers of smoking, through health
educators and programs such as D.A.R.E. They have also used the same advertising
techniques as tobacco companies, with their own anti-smoking campaign. Except
they make smoking look terrible and show that to be a real winner you don't need
to smoke. What about all these people who are currently addicted and want to
quit smoking, what are we to do as health professionals? Numbers show there is a
high 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 with
comprehensive programs that may combine various strategies including education,
peer support, behavior recognition, behavior modification methods, recognition
of potential relapse situations, and strategies for confronting such situations.
Medications that are nicotine substitutes, such as transdermal nicotine or
nicotine chewing gum may be used but their effectiveness ranges between 25%-40%.
There are also alternative methods such as hypnosis, acupuncture, or even cold
turkey. Anyone of these methods can work with the proper support and total
mindset upon quitting. The benefits of quitting are almost instant. Within 20
minutes blood pressure and pulse rate drop, body temperature of extremities
increase to normal. Within 8 hours, risk of sudden heart attack decreases. After
48 hours nerve endings begin to regenerate and sense of smell and taste begin to
return to normal. Between 2 weeks and 3 months of quitting, circulation improves
and walking becomes easier. Lung function increases up to 30%. These benefits
will increase the longer the person has not smoked. Given all the dangers of
cigarette smoking it is not surprising that many states have taken legal action
to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. More than 40 states and at least
480 communities have passed legislation to restrict smoking in public places. A
majority of companies now have smoking policies that restrict or ban smoking in
the workplace. We spend some 22 billion a year on medical care related to
smoking, and lost productivity exceeds another 43 billion a year. As of 1986
smokeless tobacco commercials were banned from TV and radio. As of 1987
smokeless tobacco companies were required to have warning labels on them. The
second interview I had conducted was with the Chief of City 1 Tobacco Control
Office, person 1. He told me about all the consequences and adverse effects that
tobacco will produce, but more importantly we talked about what this city is
doing to stop tobacco use among the people who live here. The city's first
requirement is that all tobacco sellers need to have a tobacco permit, this
allows the city to monitor the tobacco in the city. This also allows the tobacco
control office to set up a database for compliance checks. These compliance
checks will test stores for sale to minors and for signage in the stores. They
have 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 to
educate children on the dangers of tobacco. These programs and ordinances work
together to slow down tobacco use in this city. I have stated facts and figures
on tobacco and the society it affects. This is a problem that people on all
levels 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 do
not smoke healthy. Most importantly parents and all adults need to show children
that smoking is dangerous, by not smoking ourselves. By everyone doing a little
something to help this alleviate problem we can make our environment a much
healthier place to live. There are billions of dollars invested in health care
cessation programs, education, and prevention. Tobacco affects everyone; even if
you 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 financially
acceptable would be banned by now. Everyone has a reason to help in this cause
whether it is global warming, pollution, taxes, or pain and suffering. Our
society has been kept in the dark to long, and it is time we all fight to take
back what is ours "HEALTH".

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