Seeds of Light Foundation
Nicotine and Tobacco.
Tobacco is one of the most powerful stimulant plants known, primarily because of its chemical constituent nicotine.
The effects of nicotine when it enters the bloodstream via the lungs arc almost immediate. Nicotine reaches the brain within seconds and stimulates the secretion of adrenaline, thus boosting heart rate, increasing blood pressure and causing greater alertness. The body quickly builds up a tolerance to nicotine's most obvious stimulant effects, though by the time this happens virtually every user is addicted to the substance. The disadvantages of tobacco use are so well known that it is not necessary to dwell on them. Suffice it to say that nicotine is one of the most addictive and toxic drugs known.
One British study showed that a young person who smokes more than one cigarette has only a 15 percent chance of remaining a nonsmoker. And it is harder to stop smoking than to stop shooting heroin. Tobacco addicts who stop smoking can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms such as hungcr and irritability within twenty four hours, other physical symptoms may last for weeks.
Tobacco addiction is a leading cause of heart disease, lung cancer and premature death in the West. In 1990 cigarette smoking killed more than 400,000 Americans. The recent fad among young people of chewing tobacco for nicotine's stimulating effects is only slightly less damaging to health than smoking. Chewing yields higher overall doses of nicotine, because much of the nicotine in cigarettes is burned before being inhaled in smoke. But since the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly when tobacco is chewed, chewing is somewhat less addictive than smoking.
Surveys have shown that people who smoke are also more likely to consume large amounts of caffeine.
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