Tobacco is a plant that is grown for the consumption of its leaves. These leaves are dried and fermented and then put into tobacco products. Tobacco contains nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and hence people who use tobacco find it difficult to quit.
Tobacco can be consumed either by smoking, chewing or snorting. Tobacco products that can be smoked include cigarettes, bidis, cigars, pipes, hookahs and more. Tobacco can also be chewed in itself.
The nicotine in the tobacco absorbs into the bloodstream when consumed. It stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone called adrenaline or epinephrine. This epinephrine acts as a stimulant or depressor to the central nervous system and increases the blood pressure, heart rate and breathing in an individual. This stimulation is the reason for the ‘kick’ one gets after consuming tobacco. Nicotine also stimulates the release of the hormone beta-endorphin, which inhibits pain. This leads to a drop in the mood and causes fatigue.
The way in which tobacco affects an individual is the reason for dependence on it and addiction.
Downsides of Consuming Tobacco
1. Cardiovascular problems:
- Tobacco can cause blood clots and weaken the walls of the heart which can cause strokes.
- Increase in blood pressure
- It lowers the good cholesterol in the body
- It increases the buildup of fat, cholesterol and calcium in the blood vessels which can cause heart diseases and strokes
- Tobacco makes the blood sticky which can lead to the formation of clots. These clots can restrict or cut off the blood supply to the heart or brain
- It can cause angina and heart attacks
2. Lung problems:
- Pregnant women who smoke can compromise the foetus’ lungs
- Tobacco when smoked can destroy the cilia. The cilia are tiny hairs that keep dirt and mucus out of the airway. The destruction of the same can cause chronic cough
- It can also cause COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. People who suffer from this disease experience difficulty in breathing and die due to lack of air. Till date, there is no cure for COPD
- It can increase the risk of diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis and worsen asthma (pre existing condition)
3. Tobacco Causes Cancer:
Tobacco can cause cancer in the following body organs →
- Lungs (cancer in the Oropharynx, Larynx, Trachea)
- Renal Pelvis
- Colon and Retum
4. Problems in Reproductive Organs:
- Women who smoke can have trouble getting pregnant
- Women who smoke while they are pregnant have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo implants outside the uterus),
- Problems with the placenta where in the placenta is in the wrong spot or can separate from the foetus causing bleeding and early delivery
- The babies may be premature or might be at a lower weight
- Tobacco can also cause miscarriages, still births and birth defects
5. General Problems Caused by Tobacco:
- Men who consume tobacco can suffer from erectile dysfunction and decrease fertility.
- Increased risk of gum disease and loss of teeth
- Lower immune system
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower bone density (this can increase the risk of broken bones)
- Higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis
The above are few of the effects that Tobacco may have on an individual. There are various other diseases and problems that can rise from the consumption of tobacco. But on the brighter side, there are various means of getting over the addiction of tobacco and nicotine.
Ways to Get Rid of Tobacco Addiction
There are various mediums and institutions, one can approach to get help for tobacco addiction.
- Consult a professional: An individual can choose to consult or get help from a doctor who is capable of helping them. If one is suffering from certain problems that cause the consumption of tobacco, help can be taken for the same.
- Avoid Triggers: One should consciously be aware of what triggers the urges to consume tobacco. Then he/she should refrain from indulging in those activities or keep away from the triggers.
- Consumption of healthier products: To curb the urge, one should chew on chewing gum or hard food products to satisfy the craving.
- Physical activities: Physical activities help keep the cravings at bay and are a healthy distraction. For example, going for a run, jogging, walks, home exercises, going to the gym, meditation, yoga and much more.
- Remember the benefits: One should consider the benefits of not consuming tobacco-healthier lifestyle, a chance at not contracting any health problems induced due to tobacco, good self-control and restraint and more.
Tobacco has numerous disadvantages but has greater upsides if the consumption is stopped or avoided. Tobacco/Nicotine may enhance or curb emotions as to a person’s liking but the risk of getting addicted to it is high and the effects are worse.
At a point, one has to consciously weigh the risks with the benefits. For a mere ‘kick,’ an individual should not endanger themselves or their loved ones.
Also read: Is Alcohol Good for Health?
Tobacco is not a necessity or a commodity that requires constant usage. It is a product that includes choice. As a responsible and mature individual, one should refrain from indulging in the consumption of tobacco due to the health effects.
The consequences of consuming tobacco are painful and long when compared to the temporary satisfaction it provides.
Once the consumption is stopped, it does not imply that the prevention of the health problems are achieved. It can cause problems at a later stage and hence the finest solution is to avoid the consumption of tobacco and administer self-control when cravings arise.