The drug found in tobacco.
There are a large number of current and past slang names for tobacco, which mainly refer to cigarettes.
Forms and Appearance
Smoking tobacco is a brown, shredded plant-leaf material. Chewing tobacco is a dark, moist, compressed mass of plant-leaf material.
Street drug users sometimes mix tobacco with other drugs such as cannabis, and smoke the combined product.
Methods of Use
The dried leaves of the tobacco plant are usually smoked in cigarettes, pipes or cigars. Tobacco can also be chewed (chewing tobacco) which causes nicotine to be absorbed by the membranes in the mouth.
Effects of Use
Smoking tobacco contributes to the majority of drug related illness in Australia. Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 compounds and some of these have been linked to heart and lung disease. There are also 43 known cancer-causing substances in cigarettes.
Tobacco smoke has three main components: nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Nicotine is the drug in tobacco which causes dependency. It is a highly toxic chemical and can affect heart rate, increase blood pressure and decrease blood circulation.
Tar is one of the 43 cancer-causing substances and is the main substance in tobacco smoke linked to cancers and respiratory diseases. This is because tar affects the flexibility of small air sacs in the lungs.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas. High levels of carbon monoxide in the blood are typical of people who smoke. This increases the risk of developing circulation problems such as hardening of the arteries and coronary heart disease.
The effects of smoking vary from person to person, depending on the person’s gender, health, working environment and hereditary factors.
Studies have shown smoking during pregnancy has been linked to: miscarriage; stillbirth; premature birth; smaller birth weight babies; illness in early infancy; and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
There are laws in NSW that cover some public spaces where smoking is not permitted. These include auditoriums of cinemas and theatres and in public halls, lifts, public transport and taxis. Federal laws have banned television, radio, print-media and billboard advertising of tobacco products. Smoking by those handling food for sale, or in a place used for handling food for sale is illegal. Many workplaces also have smoking restrictions.
In NSW, tobacco products are only legally available to people over 18 years of age. Retailers must ask for proof of age before selling them.
Tolerance and Dependence
Smokers can develop tolerance to the nicotine in tobacco. Smokers can also develop dependence on nicotine.
Quitting smoking can produce the following withdrawal symptoms: dizziness and light headedness; headaches; tingling sensations; upset digestion; changes in sleeping patterns; coughing; and cravings. For most people, these withdrawal symptoms last up to three weeks.