Taking any form of tobacco is unsafe, especially for the young generation. Despite that, around 2.55 million middle and high school students use tobacco in varied forms (combustible, smokeless, or electronic) in the United States, revealed the National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
In 1988, the WHO created World No Tobacco Day to highlight the negative impact of tobacco products on a person’s health. As part of this world, we have also decided to take a step forward to jointly work with others in spreading awareness on this special day.
The following is a brief guide on the purpose of ‘World No Tobacco Day, how we can play our part in reducing its consumption and treating those suffering its addiction, worldwide. However, before we head to that, first have a look at these interesting facts about tobacco.
Fast Facts about tobacco consumption
- 16 million + Americans are currently suffering diseases caused by smoking
- Every one of 30 smokers die due to serious smoking illness.
- Smoking causes erectile dysfunction in men.
- A smoker’s life expectancy is ten years lesser than a non-smoker’s.
- Cigarette smoke has more than 7000 harmful chemicals, of which 70 cause cancer.
- 9 out of 10 smokers begin smoking before the age of 18.
- Each day, more than 32,000 children under 18 smoke their first cigarette.
- 5 million deaths happen each year worldwide due to tobacco and smoking; the figure will increase to 8 million by 2023.
- Smoking causes lung disease, heart disease, and stroke.
- Smokers usually inhale 1 mg of nicotine per cigarette which is enough to become an addict.
Tobacco and Nicotine
Tobacco is a highly addictive and one of the most abused substances worldwide. Every year nearly 8 million deaths happen due to its consumption, making it the primary cause of preventable deaths, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nicotine is the main addictive component of tobacco. When it is absorbed in the bloodstream, it triggers an adrenaline rush and prompts dopamine release, as a result of which the person feels ‘happy’ and relaxed.
Dopamine stimulates the part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. Similar to other drugs, tobacco consumption gradually causes psychological and physical addiction. The same is for other forms of tobacco, including chewing and snuff tobacco.
In 2011, a study revealed that 70 percent of tobacco smokers said they wanted to quit smoking.
US Youth and Tobacco consumption
According to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), around 16.2 percent of the US young generation, typically college or high school students, use tobacco products. In fact, dual-use of different forms of tobacco is common among the young generation.
Furthermore, the studies revealed that most tobacco addicts started their consumption before the age of 18. Regardless of its type, all forms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, are extremely injurious to health. It causes addiction due to the presence of nicotine content in it.
Nicotine exposure can damage brain cells and ultimately inhibit brain development during the teen year up to age 25. The use of nicotine at such early age can be extremely harmful to the parts of the brain controlling attention, learning, mood, and impulses.
Therefore, in order to control this growing issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) has started spreading awareness on drug awareness each year on 31st May as World No Tobacco Day.
Moving forward, we have discussed the symptoms of Tobacco and Nicotine addiction as well as its preventive measures and treatments.
Causes of Nicotine addiction
As we already said, nicotine is the addictive component of tobacco; it reaches your brain cells in seconds in just a puff. There it prompts the release of brain chemicals like neurotransmitters which control mood and behavior.
Then dopamine is released in the pleasure and reward center of the brain, uplifts mood, and induces the feeling of happiness.
The more you consume, the greater the amount you need to feel good. Being an addictive component, nicotine rapidly becomes part of your routine and messes with your feelings and habits.
Following are the situations/scenarios that trigger the urge to smoke.
- After coffee/tea or during work break breaks.
- While on the phone
- Drinking alcohol
- At a party with friends.
To deal with nicotine addiction, it is necessary to be aware of your trigger points and create a plan to deal with them effectively.
Symptoms of Tobacco and Nicotine addiction
Tobacco addiction is easier to adapt to as compared to other addictions. This is mainly because it is easily accessible in the form of cigarettes and can be consumed in public.
Not all smokers smoke on a regular basis; some smoke occasionally. A person is addicted if he shows the following symptoms:
- Unable to quit smoking or chewing despite trying to.
- Show withdrawal symptoms like shaky hands, fast heartbeat, sweating, or irritability.
- Feels the urge to smoke or chew tobacco after every meal or after short intervals.
- Needs tobacco to feel calm and normal or consumes it during stress.
- Skips meetings or events that prohibit the use of tobacco.
- Doesn’t quit despite health issues.
Treatments for tobacco and Nicotine addiction
While addiction is very stressful and difficult to treat, several effective treatments have emerged for it. In a survey, people complained that smoking rituals led them to relapse even after the nicotine cravings had passed.
Following are the treatments for people battling a tobacco/nicotine addiction.
1. The Patch
The patch is a nicotine addiction treatment which is also known as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). In this treatment, the person needs to apply a small bandage-like patch on their back or arm, which gradually delivers a low amount of nicotine to the body. Ultimately, it weans the body completely off it.
2. Nicotine Gum
Nicotine gum is another form of (NRT). This method is typically used for people who need oral fixation of chewing and smoking. This treatment is highly effective for tobacco smokers and chewers as it helps with the urge to smoke. When nicotine addicts crave smoking, they chew this gum to reduce their urge. The gum contains a small amount of nicotine to manage cravings.
3. Spray or inhaler
Nicotine inhalers and sprays are other tactics to cope with nicotine addiction. It gives a small amount of nicotine without the use of tobacco. They are widely sold over the counter and available almost everywhere. Users inhale the spray to fulfill their tobacco cravings.
What to expect during Nicotine withdrawal?
During nicotine withdrawal, the patient can experience a host of physical and psychological issues. In the following, we have mentioned possible side effects one might experience during the withdrawal process in the following.
- Strong, uncontrollable craving for nicotine
- Frustration and irritability
- Extreme mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Walking at night
- Increased appetite
- Abdominal cramps
- Digestive issues
- Difficulty concentrating.
Treatment of Nicotine withdrawal
If you have decided to quit smoking, it is better to discuss it with a doctor to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms. If needed, they may prescribe you medicine to keep the symptoms minimal and provide access to support groups.
While there are several types of nicotine withdrawal treatments, here we have discussed the widely used ones.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement medications: The treatment involves the use of skin patches and nicotine gums.
- Prescription nicotine replacement methods: This treatment involves the use of sprays and inhalers
Furthermore, your doctor may prescribe you medications such as bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix) to deal with the physical and mental symptoms during the withdrawal.
Nicotine withdrawal might not work for everyone, especially those who have an emotional connection to smoking. That being said, a 2018 study, revealed that 55 million adults had quit smoking. So, it’s definitely worth the try.
History of tobacco in the US
Tobacco products gained popularity in America around the time of the Revolutionary war. In 1776, the revolutionaries used it as collateral for the debts and loans they were receiving from France.
Later in 1847, Philip Morris was founded in the UK that sold hand-rolled Turkish cigarettes. Soon J.E. Liggett and Brother adopted the practice and brought it to the US in 1849. Before that, chewing tobacco was the only popular form of tobacco.
In 1881, cigarettes truly became popular after James Bonsack invented the cigarette-making machine. Then came the time of the establishment of the ‘Buck’ Duke and the American Tobacco Company. The company still survives today and is globally known as ATC, with reportedly 13,104 billion revenues in 2015.
Today tobaccos are being consumed in larger quantities than previously reported. Despite losing countless lawsuits, tobacco products companies continue to expand and spend millions of dollars on marketing. As a result, its consumption can be seen increasing in haste.
It’s our job now to take the charge and spread awareness of the detrimental effects of tobacco consumption. On this ‘World No Tobacco Day, come out of your comfort zones and run campaigns to eradicate its use from the world.