Tobacco, Nicotiana spp.
Stories About Tobacco & Smoking
The blog on this site sometimes has items related to tobacco. See the list on the plant page.
What does it do?
Nicotine in tobacco is an appetite suppressant and a mild relaxant. The physical action of smoking may also be part of its effects since it can divert attention from problems and give the smoker a few minutes away from their cares.
Is it Addictive?
A recent report showed that, whilst nicotine and heroin are vastly different substances, they seem to have very similar effects on the production of dopamine. The researchers concluded that tobacco addiction may be at least as strong as heroin addiction. Some research has even suggested that giving up nicotine is much harder than giving up opiates.
Addiction is produced quickly and many people need substantial support to break the habit. There are relatively few truly occasional smokers.
Is it Harmful?
Nicotine itself is a deadly poison in even small amounts producing convulsions prior to coma and death but most of the harm done by smoking results from the tars produced. These can result in cancer or respiratory diseases. At the present time an estimated five million people a year die around the world as a result of smoking related diseases and that number is expected to increase to seven million.
Unless there is a substantial change in the habits of many people, around one thousand million people will die during the twenty-first century.
There is, so far, little sign of such a change as it is said that ninety thousand children a day smoke their first cigarette. Statistically, half of them will die from a smoking related illness. Many of these children are, these days, in the Third World and may not be aware of the potential for harm in smoking. But, even for those who are aware of the risks when they start or continue to smoke the strange way we, as a race, look at statistics comes into play.
50% of all smokers will have their lives considerably shortened as a result of the habit but 100% of smokers KNOW that they are in the other 50% and, as a result, have no need to be concerned about what smoking does.
For most people when they see the warning on a pack of cigarettes 'SMOKING KILLS' they unconsciously add the words 'OTHER PEOPLE'.